More motorbike riders in GenSan now wearing DTI-certified helmets

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 9 Jan) – Around 33,000 motorcycle owners in Region 12 or the Soccsksargen Region have secured import commodity clearance (ICC) stickers for their helmets during the six-month free inspection and marking last year conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

Mary Ann Morales, DTI-Region 12 consumer welfare chief, said Wednesday such figure was based on the total number of ICC helmet stickers issued by the regional office and the agency’s city and provincial offices to motorcycle owners in the region from July to December last year.

Region 12 comprises the provinces of South Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, Sarangani, North Cotabato and the cities of General Santos, Koronadal, Tacurong, Kidapawan and Cotabato.

She said they inspected and marked a total of 12,326 helmets in this city; 7,951 in North Cotabato; 6,700 in South Cotabato; 2,771 in Cotabato City; 1,955 in Sultan Kudarat; 1,541 in Sarangani; and, 161 at the regional office in Koronadal City.

Morales said they were satisfied with the program’s overall turnout despite failing to meet its targeted ICC sticker issuances of 78,747, which was based on the number of registered motorcycles at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Region 12.

The total 32,912 ICC helmet stickers issued by DTI-12 only represents about 42 percent of its target for the region.

“(But) it’s a good number, overall, considering the dismal turnout in the initial phase of its implementation,” she said in a radio interview.

Morales noted that about half of the agency’s total helmet sticker issuances were accomplished last December alone.

As of the end of November last year, the DTI-12 only issued about 17,000 helmet stickers throughout the region.

By then, Morales said only 7,116 motorcycle owners in this city had availed of the agency’s free inspection and ICC marking for helmets out of the 19,199 registered motorcycles in the area.

The official reiterated they have not received any directive from the DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards (BPS) for another extension of the inspection and ICC marking for helmets.

She said a memorandum circular earlier issued by BPS central office noted that the agency would no longer be accepting applications for inspection and ICC sticker issuance after Dec. 31, 2012.

She advised motorcycle owners who have not availed of the program to just buy ICC-marked helmets at department stores and other local retailers.

Morales said local business establishments earlier agreed to assist the agency’s campaign for the standardization of helmets by selling the brands that have passed the government’s quality standards.

She said they are set to launch a series of inspections on various commercial establishments and retail outlets that were selling helmets to ensure that they would only offer the standard items.

Under the Product Certification scheme of the DTI’s Bureau of Product Standards, all manufacturers and importers of motorcycle helmets shall secure a Philippine Standard (PS) license or an ICC certificate prior to sale and distribution of their products.

Only those manufacturers and importers whose products comply with Philippine National Standard requirements are issued with the PS license and ICC certificate and are authorized to use the PS mark and place the ICC sticker on their products.

Morales said some of the helmets that are already out in the markets were marked with BPS stickers instead of the ICC.

“This should not confuse our motorcycle owners. The BPS marks may substitute the ICC stickers and both have properly passed the quality standards and necessary inspections,” she said.

Under Republic Act 10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Law 0f 2009, motorcycle owners or riders were required to wear helmets with ICC marks or face fines.

The law and its implementing rules and regulations were supposed to take effect on August 1 last year but the Department of Transportation and Communications directed the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to defer its enforcement until January 1 this year to give way to the ongoing helmet inspections and markings conducted by DTI. (Allen V. Estabillo / MindaNews)