Back in February, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) announced that Republic Act 11229 (or the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2020) will be implemented. The news meant that the days of placing a child on a parent's lap while driving are over. Instead, they are now required to be secured in a child restraint system (CRS) or a child seat.
But the implementation didn't go as planned, with critics hounding the LTO for implementing a law passed by Congress. The public panned the said act claiming there were no clear regulations and a lack of protocols for its enforcement. They subsequently criticized the timing of its implementation given the economic situation amid the pandemic. There was also the matter that all CRS must be compliant with safety regulations and accredited by the LTO, which subjected the law to even more flak.
Faced with public outcry, President Rodrigo Duterte decided to postpone the implementation of Republic Act 11229. With that, we might not hear about requiring child seats for a while. But to ensure that every CRS meets safety standards, the Department of Trade & Industry – Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS) recently issued the supplemental guidelines for the mandatory certification of CRS in the country.
Under Memorandum Circular No. 21-20 series of 2021, the MC will address the issues raised by several CRS importers, distributors, retailers, and manufacturers concerning the available international standards other than those specified in the DTI DAO 20-03, Series of 2020. The MC says manufacturers and importers of CRS will have to secure the Philippine Standard (PS) Safety Certification Mark License or the Import Commodity Clearance (ICC) certificate before selling or distributing their products in the country.
There is no laboratory that tests these products in the Philippines to actually check CRS safety standards. This will put an extra burden on retailers, importers, and consumers that have to secure the necessary documentation (e.g. ISO 9001 certificates, declaration of conformity to standards, etc.) and test results (which cannot be more than 2 years old) from the manufacturers abroad. Despite already being certified safe under DAO-20-03, they will have to secure an additional clearance to be allowed for public use.
MC No. 21-20 has set the deadline for the certification of the remaining brand-new child seats imported prior to DAO 20-03 that are still in the possession of importers, distributors, or retailers to August 7, 2021. By August 8, 2021, all CRS and child seats in the local market should bear the PS License Mark or ICC Sticker as market monitoring and enforcement shall commence on this date.
The other question is about child seats already in the possession of parents that pre-date the implementation of the law. According to MC 21-20, these seats, which have already been bought by consumers, (e.g. parents) require a clearance from the LTO in accordance with Section 13 of the IRR of R.A. 11229. That means they will have to visit the nearest LTO branch to do so.
It doesn't help that the implementation of the said law was already met with public criticism. But with the additional safety checks mandated by the DTI, parents will likely further criticize the Child Safety in Motor Vehicles Act of 2020. Last we checked, the implementation is still deferred.