Finally, texting while driving in the Philippines is now illegal or against the law. This is according to Republic Act 10913 (RA 10913) or the Anti-Distracted Driving Act, which prohibits and penalizes all drivers who are using their mobile phones or getting engaged in any distracting activities while they are driving. Violators will be slapped with fines accordingly.
According to Presidential Legislative Liaison Office (PLLO) Undersecretary Bernardino Sayo, the bill that seeks prohibition of distracted driving’ and to require bus drivers or operators to install speed limiters on their vehicles have lapsed into law on July 29. This is despite the fact that President Rodrigo Duterte has not yet signed and approved those bills.
Article VI, Section 27 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “If the President does not act on a proposed law submitted by Congress, it will lapse into law after 30 days of receipt.” The bill for Republic Act 10913 was submitted to Malacanang on June 29, but was not signed by then-President Benigno Aquino, the House Committee on Transportation panel said.
The new law describes distracted driving as driving “using a mobile communications to write, send, or read a text-based communication or to make or receive calls,” or “using an electronic entertainment or computing device to play games, watch movies, surf the Internet, compose messages, read e-books, perform calculations, and other similar acts.”
The Anti-Distracted Driving Act strictly prohibits use of mobile phone and/or electronics or equipment while motor vehicle is in motion or temporarily stopped at a red light is now strictly prohibited. It should be noted that the said act does not distinguish diplomatic, public or private vehicles, and therefore applies to all drivers in the Philippines.
Nevertheless, Republic Act 10913 has some exemptions from distracted driving such as using mobile phones for emergencies. This includes calling the fire department or local police station,a health care provider or other emergency services while driving. Also exempted from the law are drivers of ambulances, fire trucks, police cars while on duty.
Likewise, use of mobile phones through hands-free function, “or the use of a device such as but not limited to speaker phone, earphones and microphones which allow a person to make and receive calls without having to hold the mobile phone” or does not interfere with the line of sight of the driver is not considered distracted driving, and is therefore allowed by law.
First-time violators will be fined P5,000, while second-time offenders will face a P10,000 fine. Third-time violators will be fined P15,000 fine and their driver’s license will be suspended for 3 months. But for the fourth offense, violators will face a fine of P20,000 and their driver’s license will be revoked, which means they will not be allowed to drive again.
The LTO (Land Transportation Office) will be the implementing agency for this Anti-Distracted Driving Act , while the PNP (Philippine National Police) and MMDA (Metro Manila Development Authority) will be the enforcement agencies. The draft of the implementing rules and guidelines of this new law are yet for publishing and distribution.