Lawmakers eye measure authorizing Duterte to suspend child car seat law

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 10 2021 02:42 PM | Updated as of Feb 10 2021 03:21 PM

LTO officers hand out leaflets about land transportation laws to motorists along Quezon Avenue in Quezon City on February 2, 2021, the first day of the full implementation of the "Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act." Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Lawmakers from the House of Representatives on Wednesday said they were mulling the passage of a measure that would authorize President Rodrigo Duterte to suspend the implementation of the child car seat law, following wide public criticism.

The development came during the House Committee on Transportation's hearing on Wednesday, which was aimed at looking into the possible suspension of some provisions of the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act, or Republic Act 11229.

The measure took effect on Feb. 2. 

Deputy Speaker Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez and Senior Deputy Speaker Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon said a bill should be passed in Congress that would suspend the law’s implementation. 

“There has to be a bill to be passed suspending it. This cannot be done by any executive implementation… The Supreme Court has already ruled a resolution cannot defer a law. This is why it's better if there's a bill,” Rodriguez explained. 

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“The most speedy way of suspending its implementation is through judicial action. Anyone can file an application for a TRO issuance,” Leachon, meanwhile, pointed out. 

Rodriguez added that a law could be suspended even if it already has its implementing rules and regulations (IRR). 

“The IRR was already issued. It will just postpone the problem,” he said. 

“The best thing really is for us to exercise the power of legislation by having a bill that will defer this and therefore solve the problem,” added the lawmaker. 

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Deputy Majority Leader Pampanga Rep. Mikey Arroyo, on the other hand, said even the Land Transportation Office (LTO) does not have the power to defer the law’s implementation. 

But Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, the LTO chief, said the agency would do whatever they need to do on the law. 

“Gagawin po namin ano ang dapat gawin ma-defer man ang implementasyon ng batas o hindi,” Galvante said. 

(We will do whatever needs to be done, whether the law’s implementation will be deferred or not.)

Under the law, children 12 years and below are disallowed in the front seat of a private vehicle and must be secured by a restraint system, unless they are at least 4.92 feet tall and can be properly secured by a regular belt.

Violators can face fines up to P5,000 and suspension of driver's license for a year.

The Department of Transportation and the LTO earlier backed the deferment of the full implementation of the child car seat law, citing the country's economic condition and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.