As if effectively bombarded by the loud voices of 20,000 protesting motorbikers of Dumaguete City , the Dept of Transportation and Communications (DOST), thru Sec. Mar Roxas, has effectively suspended the implementation of the Helmet Law, RA 10054, nationwide, until January 1 next year, in order to give time for policy makers to reflect and make necessary amendments to suit local conditions.
One of the major proposed amendment to the law is a provision that would allow Local Governments to pass local ordinances which would suit local conditions so long as these are not inconsistent with the spirit of the national law.
It was only yesterday when four major advocates of the hold-helmet-law in the city issued a joined appeal for its suspension until local conditions nationwide are met. Read their appeal as printed earlier and elsewhere on this issue.
The DOST Sec. Mar Roxas issued the announcement to all Land Transportation Offices nationwide in order to give time for government to study possible amendments such as:
1. The assigning of speed limits in small towns and cities that may or may not require the use of helmets in view of the proximity of their distances from churches, schools, houses, markets, parks and the like;
2. The enforcement of DTI inspections of all motorbike helmets among importers, and manufacturers and not on consumers;
3. The standardization of the consumers prices of helmets which should be affordable to simple wage earners; and
4. The non-coverage by insurance companies of those accident victims found violating the helmet law; among others.
As this developed, the entire community of 20,000 motorbikes in the city, and more if not similar numbers in the towns and cities of Negros Oriental, lauded the timely suspension of the helmet law until Jan. 1 next year.
This should give policymakers in Congress ample time to make proper amendments.
Our congressmen should now make consolidated relevant amendments on the Helmet Law (RA10054), so that by January next year, upon resumption of its implementation, our congressmen will not be blamed for being remiss in promoting and protecting the welfare of their constituents.
Mind you, 2013 is an election year, the Helmet Law amendments could become a major election issue nationwide.
With the local court ruling in favor of the national helmet law and its opponents scrambling to make their case before the Court of Appeals, more than 20, 000 motorcycle owners including sellers and dealers expect the full implementation of the unpopular law, at least in Negros Oriental starting January 1 ,2013, bearing in mind the harsh penalties to be imposed for every violation.
Even the law’s harshest critic like Association of Barangay Councils Provincial President Arnie Teves concede that there is no more hindrance to its implementation by next year. Amendments should now be rushed by our Congressmen.
Land Transportation Office Chief Roland Ramos declared that from the start he has already foreseen the favorable ruling of the court and his stern determination to impose the law aggressively all to serve its “noble” ends that shall involve the deployment of his officers and deputies.
Vice-Mayor Alan Gel Cordova, who led a group of Dumaguete City Councilors namely Antonio Remollo, Joe Kenneth Arbas, Manuel Arbon and Association of Barangay Councils President Albert Aquino, said that while his group will not concede despite the setback suffered after the local RTC unfavorable ruling, the lawyer-politician thanked the DOST in considering the plight of the masses.
Many pertinent provisions of the existing law need to be re-visited by our congressmen for possible amendments. Presently, Republic Act No. 10054 otherwise known as the national helmet law provides penalties against drivers, most of whom belong to the D and E social class, caught not wearing the standard protective motorcycle helmet shall be punished with a fine of P 1,500.00 for the first offense; P 3,000.00 for the second offense; P 5,000.00 for the third offense and P 10,000.00 plus confiscation of the driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses.
The imitation of PS mark and ICC certificates in the helmets shall be punished with a fine of not less than P 10,000.00 but not more than P 20,000.00. All these are now subject to possible amendments that will suit local conditions, Sec. Mar Roxas said.
The Department of Trade and Industry will abide by the DOST ruling of suspending the Helmet Law until next year. Under the law it shall issue guidelines for importers, manufacturers and not the consumers, including the specifications on the standard protective motorcycle helmets and through its Bureau of Products Standard shall conduct testing of all manufactured and imported motorcycle helmets in the helmets to see if they pass the standards of the BPS utilizing the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe.
The Provincial Board directed the DTI to stop the collection using the official receipt of the province. Board Member Arnie Teves also took to task the DTI for failing to provide a convincing proof that the helmets were tested for its fitness. Teves , who forced the admission by the agency that despite its P 100 collection per helmet being tested, the personnel were not trained nor any equipment available to determine with certainty that the hundreds of helmets submitted daily for inspection are up to the standards. (by Florence Baesa and Dems Demecillo)
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