Senator seeks stiffer penalties for reckless driving

Cecille Suerte Felipe - The Philippine Star
Senator seeks stiffer penalties for reckless driving
Pimentel filed Senate Bill (SB) 1016 as he called on Congress to pass a measure to make reckless driving a non-probational offense.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — With over 11,000 people killed in vehicular accidents, Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Pimentel III is pushing for stiffer penalties against reckless drivers.

Pimentel filed Senate Bill (SB) 1016 as he called on Congress to pass a measure to make reckless driving a non-probational offense.

“I am alarmed by increasing deaths caused by road accidents primarily due to recklessness,” Pimentel said.

Citing figures from Transportation Secretary Jaime Bautista, Pimentel noted there are 11,000 people who died due to road accidents in 2022.

The senator said the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) ranked road accidents as the 13th cause of death in the Philippines in 2022.

Under SB 1016, when death is caused by imprudence or by negligence, whether reckless or simple, the accused should not be eligible for probation.

Last May 5 alone, a four-year-old boy died while another is in critical condition after being run over by a bus and an SUV in front of a school along Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, Pimentel noted.

“This is among hundreds, if not thousands, of heartbreaking stories of road accidents that we hear and see every day. How many innocent and precious kids do we have to lose in fatal road accidents before we act and make our roads safe for all Filipinos?” Pimentel said. “I, therefore, call on my colleagues in Congress to pass a measure calling for stiffer penalties against reckless drivers.”

“It is about time to put motorists on notice, be careful on the road or else face prison time. We can do this by removing the option for probation for convicted reckless drivers,” he added.

If passed, Pimentel said it can help reduce the number of accidents caused by reckless driving.

He cited some road accidents that killed a number of passengers last year, including an accident involving an overloaded SUV that killed 15 in Kalinga; a road mishap that killed 11 in Balingasag, Misamis Oriental and an accident that killed a seven-year-old girl in a bus terminal in Sta. Cruz, Manila.

The senator said it appears that the country’s criminal law on imprudence or negligence has not deterred people from acting with reckless abandon or an inexcusable lack of precaution.

“It has been said that the negligent persons involved in these tragedies were not in fear of punishment as they are aware that even if convicted, they would still be eligible for probation and would not be imprisoned,” Pimentel said.

“It is the certainty of imprisonment, rather than the penalty, that is a deterrent against crime, especially in the case of imprudence and negligence,” he added. “When death is involved, we should disqualify these reckless motorists from probation. They should be made to face the full consequences of their actions.”

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