MANILA - A church official has called the ban of rosaries and religious icons on a vehicle's dashboard an "overreaction," emphasizing that these items do not really cause accidents.
Fr. Jerome Secillano, Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) Executive Secretary for Public Affairs said that while he agrees with the policy banning the use of phones while driving, authorities are missing the point in banning religious displays.
"It’s not the rosaries that cause accidents, but foremost among them are mechanical problems and the drivers' ignorance and abusive behavior on the road," he said.
The priest said authorities should focus on other threats to driver and passenger safety like illegal public utility vehicles and abusive drivers.
Rosaries are often seen hanging on the rear view mirror of public utility vehicles in the Philippines, a predominantly Catholic Country. Small images of saints are usually seen on dashboards.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) said these accessories are banned under Joint Administrative Order (JAO) 2014-01 as these could be "prejudicial to road safety."
"What we don't like is for a driver to have a 'blind spot' na nalalagyan ng gadgets or accessories on top of the dashboards. The line of sight must be cleared," LTFRB spokesperson Atty. Aileen Lizada recently told DZMM.
But Fr. Secillano said the policy was "insensitive" and it lacked "common sense" as religious icons like rosaries and images of saints do not distract drivers.
"With these religious images, drivers feel they are safer, that there is divine intervention and they are being guided and protected," he said.
Piston, an association of jeepney drivers and owners, also criticized the plan, saying there was no proof that rosaries and religious trinkets caused accidents.
"Agree naman ako na dapat walang obstruction sa line of sight ng driver, tama naman iyun. Pero iyung rosaryo at signboard, OA naman iyun," George San Mateo, president of Piston transport group, told DZMM.--with reports from Agence-France Presse