As a cloud of confusion continues to hang over these first few days of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act (ADDA) implementation, a senator, a commuter welfare group and a religious group have asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to temporarily suspend it in order to clear items under its Implementing Rules and Regulations.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III is reacting to numerous public complaints regarding the placement of auto accessories and religious items that are deemed illegal under the ADDA.
“I-suspend muna habang ineevaluate. Masyadong maraming reklamo ang mga kababayan natin,” Sotto said. [Let’s suspend it while it is being reevaluated. There have been too many complaints by our countrymen.]
“We did not intend the law that way. It was supposed to be for safety concerns,” added Sotto.
Meanwhile, the Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP) is calling on the DOTr to clear up rules and regulations in the IRR of the ADDA, specifically the order to remove rosaries, figurines, toys and other unauthorized car accessories from the dashboard and behind the windshield.
“It is very clear that the coverage on the law only applies to mobile phones and electronic gadgets. We are wondering why rosaries hanging under rear view mirrors or any accessories on dashboards are also prohibited. Does it have any legal basis? Though we may consider them as distractions, these are not gadgets such as cellphones or headphones and are not covered under the law,” said LCSP President Atty. Ariel Inton.
The Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) has given motorists and drivers of public utility vehicles (PUVs) until May 26 to clear their dashboards and windshields of all accessories in compliance to the current IRR of the ADDA.
Motorists have also been banned from eating or putting on makeup while the vehicle is on public roads, even while stopped on a red light. Drinking is allowed but only through a straw.
“There must be a clear legal basis for these regulations. We are worried that traffic enforcers on the ground are not given specific guidelines on the implementation and this might cause misunderstanding. We must not overstretch the coverage of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act,” added Inton.
The LCSP is requesting Congress to make amendments to clear up inconsistencies brought about by the IRR of the new law and for the DOTr to conduct a dry-run before fully implementing items stipulated in the current IRR.
The LTFRB spokesperson also mentioned that rosaries, holy figures and other religious items must be removed from the dashboard and/or the area behind the windshield as it is in violation of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, a statement has been issued by the CBCP (Catholic Bishops Congress of the Philippines)- Public Affairs Committee.
"We agree with the banning of the use of phones while driving. But the LTFRB is absolutely missing the point by prohibiting the display of small religious images in cars," said CBCP-PAC Executive Secretary Fr. Jerome Secillano.
A special board meeting between members of the Inter-Agency Council for Traffic (I-ACT) has been set today to deliberate the current regulations under the IRR of the Anti-Distracted Driving Act.