Child car safety law deferred

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    PRESIDENT Duterte has approved the deferment of the implementation of the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act amid complaints from car owners about its timeliness amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

    “Nagdesisyon na po ang ating Presidente. Ipinagpaliban po o deferred ang implementasyon ng child car seats (Our President has decided: the implementation of the child car seat law is deferred),” presidential spokesman Harry Roque announced yesterday.

    In deciding to delay the enforcement of the law, Roque said the President noted that children below 16 years old are not allowed to leave their houses anyway, so there is still no need to set up child safety seats in private vehicles.

    Under Republic Act No 11229, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act that was signed into law last year, children aged 12 years old and below are prohibited from sitting in the front seat of vehicles.

    The law also mandated the use of “child restraint systems” such as seatbelts and car seats for children sitting in the passenger seats.

    Drivers found violating the new law, which was supposed to take effect last February 2, will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 plus the suspension of the driver’s license for one year for the third offense and succeeding offenses.

    Parents have complained about the practicality of buying child car seats and fitting these in their vehicles, noting the fiscal challenges that households have been facing since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country in March last year.

    Aside from the child car seats being expensive, vehicle owners have also inquired how taller children would fit in the special seats.

    Deputy speaker Rufus Rodriguez welcomed the President’s decision to defer the implementation of the child car seat law but said the deferment will require a new law.

    “It’s Congress that passed the law requiring child car seats, and it’s Congress that can suspend its implementation,” he said.

    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.

    Rodriguez and Senior Deputy Speaker Oriental Mindoro Rep. Doy Leachon have said that 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.

    Roque acknowledged Rodriguez’ pronouncement and said the President’s directive should already serve as “the basis to amend the law.” – With Wendell Vigilia