THE Department of Transportation (DOTr) announced on Tuesday, February 2, 2021, that it is postponing the implementation of Republic Act (RA) 11229 or the Child Safety on Motor Vehicles Act until it has finalized the enforcement protocol amid the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.
The DOTr said this is in consideration of the Covid-19 pandemic, and “until a comprehensive information, education and communication (IEC) campaign is executed.”
The DOTr, in a clarificatory statement it issued on February 2, said the department and the LTO favor the deferment of the full implementation of the RA 11229.
The DOTr said the LTO had scheduled in March 2020 an enforcement and communications planning workshop on the implementation of RA 11229 but had to cancel it because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the imposition of community quarantine.
“Both the DOTr and the LTO are in agreement that a deferment of the full implementation or enforcement of this new rule is warranted, especially given our current economic situation amid this still raging pandemic,” DOTr said in a statement.
That, as Land Transportation Office (LTO)-Central Visayas Director Victor Emannuel Caindec said there is still much to be done as part of their program to effectively implement the Child Safety on Motor Vehicles Act.
“If we do not focus on ensuring education to ensure compliance, we will fail,” he told SunStar Cebu on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021.
Caindec said while many people focus on asking when to implement the law, he said he wants to focus on ensuring that the community understands the intention of the law and how LTO can address it.
He said the success of the enforcement of the law is not about how many apprehensions the implementing agencies do, but it is about the reduction of fatal cases.
RA 11229 mandates the use of Child Restraint Systems for children below 12 years old in private motor vehicles.
Moreover, no child will be allowed to sit in the front seat of a motor vehicle with a running engine.
Caindec encouraged the public to see the legislation as an important step to ensure road safety interventions are institutionalized such as the seat belt law and the motorcycle safety law.
“We need to look at this development as a necessary though difficult step in ensuring that we help save lives, especially children’s. This will eventually force the future adoption of more safe vehicle transport, both for private and public use,” he said.
He clarified that it is not just the LTO or DOTr that issued its own memorandum or policy requiring car seats.
It was passed and signed into law on Feb. 22, 2019 while its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR) was approved on Dec. 23, 2019.
It took effect in February 2020, but a transitory period was provided prior to the mandatory compliance as stated in its IRR.
The agency said part of the planned IEC campaign is the information rollout about the law targeting teachers, medical practitioners, children, manufacturers, retailers and importers, among others.
The DOTr said the LTO is still in the process of finalizing enforcement protocol as this requires special training because of involvement of the children.
The DOTr echoed the statement of the LTO that violators will have no fines for now and will “initially be warned” and given information materials about the new law.
The Department said that, according to the LTO, issuance of fines or imposition of driver’s license demerit points may be done in three to six months. (WBS)