It's about time.
Party-list Representative Neil Abayon has just filed the first house bill of 2018 called 'Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act', one that wants to amend laws applicable to traffic accidents, particularly with regards to reckless imprudence.
“Yesterday, I personally filed HB6925 which seeks to make laws on reckless imprudence fair,” said Rep. Abayon in a social media post. “Under current laws and procedures, drivers or motorists involved in road safety incidents and traffic violations are presumed at fault even when pedestrians an/or other motorists are at fault or also share fault.”
The bill is a direct response to a series of incidents that have been publicized on social media, most recently one involving a truck that was broadsided by a motorcycle; the two-wheeled motorist was a teenager and was allegedly under the influence of alcohol.
“An example of this flawed system is the incident involving truck driver Tedy Gotis and an intoxicated teenager motorcycle rider who hit his truck but the laws still presumed Tedy as the one at fault just because he was driving a bigger vehicle,” continued Rep. Abayon.
In the incident cited by Rep. Abayon, the driver of the truck was the one arrested by the police and will unfortunately have cases automatically filed against him despite the merits of the incident are clearly and overwhelmingly in his favor.
Philippine law, particularly Article 365 in the Revised Penal Code which defines imprudence and negligence, is clear that the parties at fault should be penalized, but the application of the law is perceived by motorists to have been skewed against them when it comes to accidents involving riders of motorcycles or pedestrians. Even if the motorcyclist or pedestrian is at fault (i.e. intoxicated or jaywalking, respectively), so long as there are injuries sustained there is a good change that the driver of the vehicle will be arrested and have cases filed against him/her by the government.
AutoIndustriya.com consulted a lawyer regarding this matter on whether it is the law that needs addressing or the application of it, and the response we received clarifies things even further.
"I don't think there is anything wrong with the law, it is the way the law is being applied that is wrong," said our legal consultant who wished to remain anonymous. "The person who is negligent is liable, however liability can be shared by both parties if there is contributory negligence."
"Insofar as I know there is no presumption in the rules of evidence making the 'bigger vehicle' liable and without said presumption the burden of proof is on the accuser," continued our legal adviser.
This new bill, incidentally the first one to be filed in 2018, wants to make traffic accidents fair by addressing this supposed flaw in the legal system.