MANILA (3rd UPDATE) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the deferment of the implementation of the child car seat law following public criticism, Malacañang said on Thursday, adding that the private motor vehicle inspection system (PMVIS) is no longer mandatory.
The law that took effect last Feb. 2 disallows children aged 12 years old and below from sitting in the front seat of a vehicle, and mandates them to use "child restraint systems" when sitting at the back.
"Nagdesisyon na po ang ating Presidente. Ipinagpaliban po o deferred ang implementasyon ng child car seats," said Palace spokesman Harry Roque.
(Our President has decided. The implementation of the child car seats is postponed or deferred.)
The transport department has admitted a lack of information dissemination on the car seat law due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions.
Lawmakers questioned the legal basis for privatizing vehicle inspection, and motorists complained that the emission testing fee tripled to P1,500 from P500 and that vehicle registration fee may now cost up to P3,000.
"Hindi na po mandatory ang MVIS. Ibig sabihin, kinakailangan wala pong bagong singil, walang karagdagang singil sa pagpaparehistro ng mga sasakyan," Roque told reporters in an online briefing.
(Meanwhile, MVIS is no longer mandatory. This means that there should be no new or additional fee for the registration of vehicles.)
Duterte considered the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising food prices in issuing these directives, said Roque.
The Department of Transportation (DOTr), meanwhile, said in a statement that PMVIC owners would lower their fees, after Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade urged them to do so.
Following this development, the PMVIC testing fee will be lowered to P600 for private vehicles, from P1,500 to P1,800 earlier. Fees for motorcycle inspections will also be lowered to P500, while inspection fee for public utility jeepneys will now cost P300, according to the statement.
"Nonetheless, the process will still cover all 73 inspection items, including smoke emission, for a comprehensive test of a vehicle’s roadworthiness," it read.
The PMVICs' earlier fees were based on the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) memorandum circular 2018-2158.
The deferment of the car seat law will require new legislation, said Deputy Speaker Rufus Rodriguez.
He said a joint House-Senate resolution would not suffice because the Supreme Court had ruled in a case involving government nurses’ basic pay that a resolution cannot prevail over a law.
“It’s Congress that passed the law requiring child car seats, and it’s Congress that can suspend its implementation,” he said in a statement.
Duterte's pronouncement will serve as "basis" to amend the law which he signed in February 2019, said Roque.
The LTO accredited at least 138 motor vehicle inspection facilities, Rodriguez said. The lawmaker said he had received reports that some of these centers lacked personnel with proper training and reliable equipment, and were allowed to collect excessive fees from motor vehicle owners.