Sotto supports deferment of enforcement but laments ‘misinterpretation’ of Child Car Safety Law

Robie de Guzman   •   February 9, 2021   •   859

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III has chided the critics of Republic Act No. 11229 or the Child Safety Motor Vehicles Act, saying its provisions were heavily “misinterpreted” and that detractors should read it first before vilifying the law.

In a privilege speech on Monday, Sotto defended the law mandating the use of child restraint systems or car seats for young children, adding that misinterpretation of its provisions should not be a reason for the postponement of its full enforcement.

Sotto said he would support the deferment of its implementation considering the current COVID-19 pandemic when people do not have extra funds to purchase car seats.

“However, if the reason for the postponement is not due to the pandemic but that the law is being misinterpreted, that I cannot support,” he said.

The Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte in February 2019. The law mandates that children below 12 years old with a height of less than 150 centimeters or 59 inches to use child restraint systems or car seats and are only allowed to take the front seat if they meet the 4’11’ height requirement, on top of using the regular seat belt.

The law was set to be fully implemented on February 2 but transportation officials earlier said they will not yet apprehend or issue tickets to violators as they aim to conduct intensified information drive about the law within the next six months.

Sotto said the law clearly states the age, height and weight it covers, and children who do not fall under these requirement as provided by law could use the usual seat belts.

Under the law, violators will be fined P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense, and P5,000 and suspension of driver’s license for one year for the third and succeeding offenses.

“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,” Sotto said.

He said private motorists in first world countries like the United States, Europe and Asia are required to rent a child seat when they rent a car. Nobody complained about the requirement, Sotto noted.

“Now, why is a car restraint system necessary? Mandating the use of 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,” he stressed.

Sotto also hit social media users who contribute to the “misinterpretation” of the law, as well as skeptics concluding that China will benefit from the law’s implementation.

“Let’s stop the blame game. There are people saying that the Chinese will benefit from it. If that is the argument, then don’t buy an iPhone because it is assembled in China. Huawei, shoes like Adidas, as they are all manufactured in China,” he said.

“I wonder, in this issue, I wonder who the cerebrally challenged are? The implementers, or those opposing the law on social media?” he added.

While he agrees that the implementation of the law is ill-timed, he emphasized the importance of its enforcement to ensure child car safety.

“Our country is behind when it comes to the safety in transportation, especially the safety of the children. 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,” he said.

The Senate committee on public services has set an inquiry into issues surrounding the measure on Tuesday while a similar hearing will also be held at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

Children under 12 years must be in car seat effective Feb. 2 under new PH law

Marje Pelayo   •   February 2, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Child Safety Motor Vehicles Act known also as Child Car Seat Law takes effect today, Tuesday (February 2).

The new law requires private vehicles to provide car seats for minor passengers aged 12 years and below to protect them from vehicle-related injuries, and deaths in case of an accident.

Based on the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR), the car seat must fit based on the age and the height of the child as well as compliant with the standards set by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

However, the law exempts children measuring 150 centimeters in height provided they use the seatbelt.

Children with medical conditions are also exempted from using  a car seat when it may further compromise the child’s condition.

“Ito naman sa kabutihan ng ating mga kabataan. Fifty-two percent of the victims of road crash incidents eh mga bata. You know mga bata very fragile pa ito, so they need more protection,” said Atty. Clarence Guinto, Director of the Land Transportation Office – National Capital Region (LTO-NCR).

Any violation shall be fined P1,000 for the first offense; P2,000 for the second offense; and P5,000 and one-year suspension of the driver’s license for the third and succeeding offenses.

Any manufacturer, importer or retailer found making or selling substandard car seats can also be fined with P50,000 to P100,000 for “each and every child restraint system manufactured, distributed, imported and/ or sold”.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) clarified that they will not apprehend violators at this stage even when the law is already in effect as they plan to intensify first the agency’s information drive on it.

“Nasa information campaign pa lang kami. Wala pa kaming huli ngayon kaya but we are informing the public ngayon na maghanda na rin sila,” Guinto said,

“Ngayon pa lang magpapara na kami pero we will not issue tickets,” he added.

The LTO said they may start apprehending violators of the law three to six months from now.

The mandatory child car seat law was signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 22, 2020. MNP (with inputs from Joan Nano)

Sotto, Lacson want fresh probe into alleged PhilHealth corruption

Robie de Guzman   •   July 24, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Friday said a fresh investigation should be conducted into the alleged corruption at the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) following the resignation of one of its officers.

“There must be a full blown Senate investigation. Allegations and denials abound therefore diligence is necessary,” Sotto said in a statement.

“Where there is smoke, there is fire!” he added.

Lawyer Thorrsson Montes Keith resigned from his post in PhilHealth citing “widespread corruption” in the agency as one of his reasons for quitting. He also said in his resignation letter that the mandatory payment of PhilHealth contribution by overseas Filipinos workers was “unconstitutional” and against his personal values to let OFWs “pay for the spillages” of the agency.

He also claimed that there is rampant and patent unfairness in the agency’s promotion process, and that his salary and hazard pay has not been on time since he started investigating Philhealth officers as its “anti-fraud legal officer.”

According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, he is now drafting a resolution seeking for an inquiry into the issue.

“I am now drafting a resolution calling for a Senate Committee of the Whole inquiry. As expressed by SP Sotto to me last night, this inquiry will be one of the Senate’s top agenda after our session resumes on Monday,” Lacson said in a separate statement.

Reports quoting sources said that corruption claims were the topic of an online meeting that led to a shouting match between Philhealth officials on Thursday evening.

“That such corruption occurred amid the COVID-19 crisis makes it more disgusting and abominable,” Lacson said.

“Nakakasuya na sobra. Needless to say, there is urgency that the Senate has to act on the matter immediately, as part of its oversight mandate, having passed the Universal Health Law,” he added.

Last year, the Senate launched a probe into alleged conflict of interest between PhilHealth and the Department of Health. The investigation also covered DOH contracts that went to pharmaceutical firms owned by relatives of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

PhilHealth President and CEO Ricardo Morales earlier denied claims of widespread corruption in the agency and called on Keith to substantiate his allegations. He also said that Keith only raised the issue after his application for another post at the agency was turned down.

Morales also denied the alleged resignation of two other PhilHealth officers due to corruption allegations. He said his head executive assistant resigned to pursue his doctoral studies while a corporate counsel denied any news of quitting his post. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Harlene Delgado)

Robredo, Sotto, Cayetano get higher satisfaction ratings in Q4 2019 – SWS

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2020

(L-R) Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano

MANILA, Philippines – The net satisfaction ratings of Vice President Leni Robredo, Senate President Vicente Sotto III, and House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano rose in the last quarter of 2019, based on the latest survey of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) released on Tuesday, March 3.

The survey, conducted from December 13 to 16, 2019, revealed that 59% were satisfied and 23% were dissatisfied with the performance of Robredo.

Robredo’s rating increased by three points for a “good” +36, an improvement from her previous +33 in September 2019.

Meanwhile, Sotto got a “very good” +62 net satisfaction rating after 73% of the respondents said they were satisfied with his performance as Senate President while 10% expressed dissatisfaction.

Sotto’s rating is one-point higher than his previous +61 in September 2019.

Cayetano also got a “very good” +53 rating as 67% of respondents said they were satisfied with his performance while 15% said they were not satisfied.

The House Speaker’s score is up by four points from his previous rating of +49.

The survey also showed that 40% of respondents were satisfied with the work of Supreme Court Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta while 19% said they were dissatisfied.

Peralta’s first net satisfaction rating was a “moderate” +21, the SWS said. He assumed the post in October last year.

The December 2019 survey also revealed that the net satisfaction rating of the Senate stayed “very good” +62 which is up from +56 in September; while the House of Representatives climbed from “good” to “very good” +51 from the previous +43.

The Supreme Court’s net satisfaction rating also remained “good” +49, up from +41 in September while the Cabinet as a whole stayed “good” at +45 rating, a 10-point increase from its previous +35 rating.

The Fourth Quarter 2019 SWS Survey was conducted from December 13-16, 2019 using face-to-face interviews of 1,200 adults (18 years old and above) nationwide.

Please visit the link for additional information about the survey.

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