Senator Leila M. de Lima has filed Senate Bill 1862 which proposes to require every private vehicle to install a child car seat system for children aged 0-6 years old.
Under her proposed measure, only children from six to 12 years old are allowed to sit in front of vehicles, except when the child is at least 150 centimeters in height and capable of properly fitting in the regular seat belt in the front seat.
The bill seeks to amend Republic Act (RA) No. 8750, also known as "Seat Belts Use Act of 1999," which only addresses adults and only prevents children aged 6-12 from sitting on the front seat. The proposed measure hopes to address a legislative gap in the current law and reduce the number of child fatalities.
"Infants and children need a more specific type of design to protect them during a collision because a seat belt will not prevent trajectory or injuries," said Sen. de Lima.
She cited figures from a Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) report that showed an average of 667 children - ages 14 years old and below - died in road accidents from 2006 to 2015.
According to World Health Organization (WHO), the use of child restraint systems can reduce deaths among infants by approximately 70 percent and among small children by between 54 percent and 80 percent.
SB 1862 also prescribed for higher penalties on violators ranging from minimum fine of PhP 100 to PhP 1, 000 for the first offense to PhP 500 to PhP 2,000.
The senator has filed the measure despite being detained on drug charges for more than 400 days.
House Bill 1862 has a counterpart in Congress, known as House Bill 6938, or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act. The bill has already received a vote of 255-0 in February this year, and requires that the child seats used are compliant with international standards set by the United Nations as part of the Global New Car Assessment Initiative.
The bill has yet to be voted on by the senators. It will then have to go through readings and approval processes. If it gets through all these, a bicameral will be needed to consolidate both versions, before a final version is presented to the President to sign and pass into law or veto.