There are certain laws and regulations that are steeped in good intentions. They have the best interests of the public at large. However, sometimes, the best intentions are lost in the details or implementation.

In the mobility field, for example, there are a number of these well-meaning public service laws that got mired in public controversy and dismay. The first is the implementation of the required child seat.

Republic Act 11229, known as the Child Car Seat Law, mandates the use of child restraint systems (CRS) among children 12 years old and below, with a height of 4 feet 11 inches and below. It was signed into law by President Duterte on February 22, 2019 and was supposed to take full effect last February 2, 2021. Due to a public outcry as a result of the prevailing economic difficulties, the President deferred the implementation of the law.

I don’t think that anyone wants to put their child at risk. The child seat precisely adds that layer of protection aimed at keeping children below 12 years old safe while in the car.

The public outcry, I believe, was a result of a lack of education. The appropriate government agencies – the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and Land Transport Office (LTO) – were not able to mount a public service campaign that could have allowed vehicle owners to understand the nature and requirements of the law. If I recall, the announcement of the implementation of the law came only days before. The timing was questioned given the added economic burden to vehicle owners or passengers in the midst of the pandemic.

But, the fact remains that the law was enacted back in 2019 and, by all measures, it is a good law. The implementing rules and regulations, however, could have been disseminated months before so motorists could prepare, including where and how to procure certified child seats. The scope of coverage could have also been clarified – especially for TNVS and public utility vehicles like taxis, jeeps or buses. Given time, the process and compliance might have led to a smoother implementation.

Granted, the pandemic created a whole set of different priorities that might have relegated the Child Seat implementation to the back of the queue. It resulted in a missed opportunity – albeit temporarily – to elevate the quality of life of Filipinos.

Another example of good intentions gone bad is the Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Center (PMVIC). The current inspection of vehicle roadworthiness is practically inutile, costly and inefficient. It relies on visual inspection at a time when vehicles have transitioned significantly from mechanical to electrical systems, not easy for the naked eye to inspect. On top of which, the current crop of inspection centers are limited in numbers, capacity and testing equipment.

The DOTr and LTO, realizing the challenges, saw the need to level up its vehicle inspection services. Digital was the way forward and collaboration with the private sector was a potential path to capacity expansion. A digital solution provider was identified as a partner in order to standardize the inspection system and bring the inspection up to present-day standards. Likewise, private investors were invited to set-up inspection centers that incorporated the new inspection process and standards.

As the LTO was preparing to roll-out the new vehicle inspection process, legislators weighed in on the matter. Questions were raised on the way inspection center franchises were awarded. In fact, the very premise of delegating the inspection of vehicles – a mandate of government – to private concerns was taken to task. And then the matter of inspection fees also came under attack, again in the light of economic difficulties amid the pandemic.

In this case, the lack of transparency and consultation with stakeholders got in the way of best intentions. After all, which auto owner does not want the peace of mind of a properly inspected vehicle. Road accidents are one of the biggest causes of deaths in the country and growing. Stepping-up the certification of vehicle roadworthiness will help reverse this phenomenon. Yes, this was another missed opportunity.

In the horizon is yet another well-meaning piece of legislation mandating the need for a parking space for every vehicle purchase. Early reports have it that only brand new vehicle purchases will be covered. So what to do with all the hundreds of thousands of used cars that are sold and bought annually? Also, auto dealers are being considered to be held liable for violations. How will dealers be able to enforce compliance?

The proposed legislation is aimed at decongesting roads from illegally parked vehicles. That’s a good thing, to be sure.  This time, let’s hope government – all branches – works to realize their best intentions.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://mb.com.ph/2021/03/15/managing-change/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=managing-change)