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Osmeña not keen on ‘special car seats for kids’ bill

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita June 30,2017 - 11:01 PM


Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña was not keen on the proposal to require private car owners to have child restraint systems or special car seats for children.

Osmeña said House Bill 5595 and its corresponding Senate Bill 1447 which aim to promote child safety in private motor vehicles may be difficult to enforce.

At the same time, it may also be an added burden to those who can’t afford to buy specialized car seats for children.

“Is this anti-poor? Can the poor afford car seats? What are they going to do if there’s a child and you can’t afford a car seat? Are you going to put the driver in jail? You have to be realistic and this needs more careful thinking,” he said during the meeting yesterday at Harold’s Hotel.

He instead suggested that motorists who have children on board and don’t have specialized car seats should not be allowed to drive at a speed higher than 20 kilometers per hour.

For her part, Councilor Margarita Osmeña, who has been a long time advocate for children’s welfare, said she understood the intention of the bill. She recalled that when she gave birth to her son in the United States more than 30 years ago she was not allowed to bring their baby out of the hospital until the nurse checked that their car had a special seat for infants.

She said it remains a challenge to communicate the intent of the proposal especially to grassroots level. But she assured that the city will help in any way it can in order to promote the welfare of children.

“I would like to assure you that if we can work on this together, the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children, the Commission for the Welfare and Protection of Children, we will be partners. The children are a priority in Cebu City. That is what I want to make clear,” she said.

Their concerns were acknowledged by Jason Salvador, project manager of the Ateneo School of Government, who said that the biggest challenge they have is the common sentiment that the proposal is somewhat anti-poor.

Salvador and several other stakeholders were in Cebu yesterday to push for the passage of the bills.

Among those who attended yesterday’s meeting were Mayor Osmeña, Councilor Osmeña, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Cebu Chapter, Philippine Red Cross, transport groups, Land Transportation Office, Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board, lawyers and other civil society organizations.

Under HB 5595, which is authored by Representatives Cesar Sarmiento and Mariano Michael Velarde Jr., and SB 1447 authored by Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito, it will be unlawful for the driver of a privately-owned motor vehicle not to secure at all times a child in a child restraint system while transporting him or her on any road, street or highway.

According to Salvador, both bills are pending in the different committees. HB 5595 is now with the committee on transportation while SB 1447 is with the committee on public order. He said the proposal is gaining support.

“We need this in the Philippines. We are one of the few countries that don’t have a child restraints law. There are six risk factors that cause road crashes – drunk and drugged driving, speeding, distracted driving, and non-use of helmets, seatbelts and child restraints. In the Philippines, non-use of child restraints is the only risk factor that has no legislation. That’s why we’re advocating for it because children are the most vulnerable,” said Salvador.

Salvador said they are now doing roadshows in several parts of the country to further advocate for the passage of the bills and also to solicit suggestions and comments about the proposal.

Cebu City is their first location, and they will be going to Davao City also.

Carl Marx Carumba, a lawyer from the Initiatives for Dialogue and Empowerment through Alternative Legal Services Inc., said this is why they are trying to disseminate the information to a wider segment of the population.  He said the proposal is not anti-poor or discriminatory.
On average, he said a child restraint system can be as cheap as P5,000.

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TAGS: bill, keen, Kids, Osmeña, seats, special

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