Calling it “anti-poor”, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said city traffic enforcers will not join the August 15 implementation of the new Motorcycle Helmet Act.
He said the new law, which requires motorycle riders nationwide to wear certified full-face crash helmets, was tedious to enforce.
He said Citom enforcers had their hands full manning traffic without having to check if motorists are wearing the correct helmets with stickers that show they have been certified by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and Department of Transportation and Communication (DOTC).
“Daghan na kaayo ta ug trabaho on. Let the LTO (Land Transportation office) implement that if they really wanted to implement the law,” said Rama.
Safety on the road is the main reason for Republic Act No.10054, but the helmet law has sparked objections because violators who wear substandard helmets, or those which lack ICC marks or PS stickers to show they are certified for quality, face fines of P1,000 to P10,000.
Police authorities also worry that full-face helmets would make it easier for hoodlums on motorbikes to hide their features.
The board of the City Traffic and Operations Management (Citom) agreed on Monday to seek a postponment of implementation of the the Mandatory Helmet Act of 2010 until questions on its implementation area are addressed, said Citom board chairman Sylvan Jakosalem.
Jakosalem said that that securing a new P100 ICC sticker was costly for ordinary motorists. It should be issued for free, he said.
“People use motorbikes precisely because they can’t afford to buy a car. What would they do with their old helmets? Throw them away?” he said.
A certified full-face helmet can cost over P2,000 depending on the brand.
Jakosalem said a German friend asked what he should do with the helmet he bought in England but lacks the required DTI sticker.
“I don’t know why we have to complicate the lives of motorcycle drivers,” said Jakosalem.
While implementation of the new law is set on Aug. 15, many motorists don’t even know where to get certification stickers for their helmets.
Jakosalem said many people come up to ask him about this problem.
“The Citom board is preparing a resolution for next Monday’s board meeting to request DOTC to defer implementation until many questions are answered regarding this law and its implementation,” he told Cebu Daily News.
Jakosalem gave a privileged speech calling for deferment during the board meeting.
One board member asked Citom personnel to show a sample of a helmet owned by their speed cop. The helmet had an old ICC sticker.
Implementing guidelines of RA 10054 require motorists to secure a new ICC sticker with a hologram.
“What a stupid provision! So now, to replace the old DTI ICC stickers we have to go to DTI to buy a new sticker?” said Jakosalem.
“We are too busy managing traffic in Citom. It would be a waste of time and energy for our enforcers to be looking for DTI ICC stickers on helmets. We are undermanned,” he said.
Jakosalem said Citom’s 270 enforcers should focus on traffic management “which is our main mandate.”
He said Cebu City already has a helmet ordinance which they have been enforcing for the last five years.
City Ordinance No. 2139 requires motorcycle drivers and their riders to wear crash helmets to reduce the risk of severe head injuries in case of accidents.
Violators face a fine of P1,000 to P3,000, or imprisonment of less than six months or both, at the discretion of the court.
To avoid a court trial, one can pay a one-time fine of P2,000.
“We already have helmet ordinance and we are strictly enforcing it with an average of 400 apprehensions a month,” Jakosalem said.
Even without RA 10054, a national law requires motorists to use crash helmets.
What Cebu City is trying to do is strictly enforce the helmet rule for passengers for habal-habal or motorcycle-taxis.
Jakosalem said that if DTI and DOTC would insist on the implementation of the new helmet law, they should be doing this outside of Cebu City “where almost nobody wears helmets except those coming from or going to Cebu City.”
He also said DTI and DOTC should go after retailers of substandard helmets instead of motorists.
“Any buyer will have assumed that a helmet he or she bought passed safety standards otherwise it shouldn’t have been allowed to be sold.” /Edison A. delos Angeles, Correspondent