Press Release
February 8, 2021

Speech of Senate President Vicente C. Sotto III on the deferment of the implementation of the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act

My esteemed colleagues, I actually have a lengthy privilege speech prepared but I will opt for a more commonsensical approach on the subject I would want to speak throughout.

Mr. President, the committee on public services, I understand they'll be conducting a hearing tomorrow on Republic Act 11229, this is the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act. There are several resolutions filed deferring the implementation of Republic Act 11229 otherwise known as the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act - P.S. Resolution 64 and P.S. Resolution (unclear). Mr. President even Malacañang is also supportive of the intent of the resolution which is the deferment of the implementation that is according to Sen. Bong Go.

Now, if the reason for the postponement is due to the pandemic, this is alright with me. I support such a move. However, if the reason for the postponement is not due to the pandemic, but the law is being misinterpreted, that I cannot support.

Are we just going to allow our country to remain as a third world country in terms of safety of children? Many have a very low understanding of the law that we passed. There are countries similarly situated or shall we call underdeveloped or the least developed countries such as El Salvador, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Mozambique, Lao People's Democratic Republic, but their implementation of their car seat or child seat safety law is doing well or are doing well. In the first world countries obviously - United States, Europe, even in the developed countries here in Asia, when you rent a car, you will have to rent a child seat if you have a child with you. Wala namang umangal, no one complains. They've had it for years; it has been effective. As I have said, no complaints. Bakit dito sa atin, hindi na nga naiintindihan yung batas, nagrereklamo pa?

Mr. President let me be very specific. Republic Act 11229 is a very simple law with just 18 sections, only nine of which are considered to be cruxes and the rest are just the usual standard provisions. But why is it misinterpreted? Here is a sample of a misinterpretation: a radio announcer or shall I call annunciator says that what can she do? She's barely 4'10. Eh doon daw sa pag sumakay siya sa harap o sa likod daw baka hulihin daw siya ng pulis. Bakit, mukha ka bang 11 years old? Eh mukhang 50/12 eh. Tinatanong ni Senator Villanueva ano raw yung 50/12 - 62. Like the age of the presiding officer, he is 60/12, 60/12 lang. Mukha ngang 62 kahit na - ang liwanag, Mr. President. The law is so clear - child. Mukha ka bang child?

Mr. President, even a midget is not a child if he is beyond the age that has been mentioned, which is below 12 years old. Social media contributes to the misinterpretation. Meron nagsasabi na eh paano daw yung anak niya 11 years old lang eh 5'8. Eh di hindi kailangan, hindi ba. Common sense. Eh 5'8 pala eh, kahit five years old lang yun, hindi kailangan. It has to be combined. The law says combine the age and the height, ganoon. At saka weight. Yun ang maliwanag na maliwanag doon. I do not know what has gone through some of our friends.

Now, why is a car restraint system necessary? Mandating the use of age appropriate, 'yun ang nasa batas, 'age-appropriate child restraint system,' like car seats and booster seats, are one of the evidence-based road safety policies that will save lives of the minor passengers and will give them a better chance of surviving a car crash. 'Yun yun. The law covers only below 12 years old and with a height of less than 150-centimeters or 49-inches. If a child does not fall in this age and height requirement as provided by law, the usual seatbelt will suffice.

Kasi po, tingnan ninyo. Kung ang bata ay, let us say, malaki-laki pero 11 years old, pag nag seatbelt, saan ang tama ng shoulder belt, sa leeg. Nung mag booster seat yung bata, six years old, five years old, hindi mo nilagyan ng child restraint, hindi naka seatbelt yun dahil pag sineatbelt mo yun, sa ilong ang tama ng shoulder belt, kaya kailangan yung child seat na tinatawag. And that is the safety, because, according to a published article by the Pediatric Trauma Department of the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Michigan, U.S.A., bones develop with age, not size. So even if your child is big for their age, their spine needs to be protected. Thus, the age of the child is a big factor.

Kinonsider lahat ng committee natin yan nung araw. All the Senators present when the bill was approved, even on third reading, voted in favor in the 17th Congress. Dalampu na Senador ang bumoto rito. Twenty affirmative votes, no negative votes, no abstention. Sa House of Representatives, 225 affirmative votes.

Let us stop the blame game. There are people saying that naku daw merong mga gustong kumita, mga Chinese kaya daw ipinasok itong batas na ito. If that is the argument, well, then do not buy the iPhone dahil assembled in China. The Xiaomi products, Huawei, Lenovo, shoes like Nike, Adidas, and other top sneaker brands. As they are all manufactured in China, baka kumita ang China pagka ganoon. Puro U.S. ang bilhin ninyo. Some plastic wares, furniture, housewares, various items sold through Lazada, Shopee, puro China yun, so it is not a reason. Huwag ninyong gagamitin na dahilan kasi baka raw may kikita lang, meron lang gustong kumita sa gobyerno.

Mr. President, really. I wonder, in this issue, I wonder who the cerebrally challenged are? The implementors, or those opposing the law on social media? I hope this will be answered tomorrow in the hearing, because, Mr. President, although we have numerous laws already relative to road safety, implementation is always the problem. Some of the existing road safety laws are the Seatbelts Use Law, the Anti-Drugged and Drunk Driving Law, Children's Safety on Motorcycle Act, Road Speed-Limiter Act, the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.

Ganoon pa man, our country is behind when it comes to the safety in transportation, especially the safety of the children. We are behind in transportation, and that includes the Department of Transportation.

I can only pray that our children and grandchildren do not get hurt because of our misunderstanding of the law. Kaya please, basa muna bago kumontra.

Thank you, Mr. President.

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