DILG admonishes Cainta Mayor for violating helmet law

Robie de Guzman
Cainta Mayor Johnielle Keith Pasion Nieto

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Tuesday scolded Cainta, Rizal Mayor Johnielle Keith Nieto for violating the law on wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle on his way to a church wedding.

DILG Spokesperson and Undersecretary Jonathan Malaya said election to public office does not grant anyone special status, adding that being a public official does not exempt anyone from the coverage of the law.

“While Mayor Nieto has already publicly apologized for his act and accepted his shortcomings, the Department underscores the need for elected local officials to lead by example at all times,” Malaya said in a statement.

“How can we expect ordinary citizens to follow the law if they see their local officials flaunting or defying it and when called out, defend their right not to follow on the ground that he has signed a waiver?” he added.

“Ang mayor ang kailangang manguna sa pagsunod sa batas, hindi sa paglabag nito. Resorting to legal technicalities will not change the facts.”

The DILG official was referring to Nieto’s earlier defense that he had signed a waiver before riding a motorcycle that would absolve anyone from liability if he gets injured for not wearing any protective gear.

Some netizens, including road safety advocate James Deakin, called out the mayor for violating Republic Act 10054 which mandates motorcycle riders to wear standard protective helmets.

Nieto later apologized for his action and admitted that he should have been “more circumspect in maintaining the image of a compliant citizen given his position.

I make this public apology to all who have witnessed me riding a motorcyle without a helmet heading towards a church to…

Posted by Johnielle Keith Pasion Nieto on  Thursday, 31 October 2019

Malaya also reiterated President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for government officials to not act like they are special because, in reality, they are only workers of the people.

“That’s why don’t treat us special. We are just like anybody else. We are just ordinary people. We are just workers,” the President said in a recent speech in Malacañang.

The President also told government officials, “Huwag kayong mag-siren, we are not a special breed. We are just workers of government, we are paid to work. We are not paid to strut around.”

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