Three years ago, Iligan City Congressman, Frederick Siao, filed House Bill (HB) 1987 or the Philippine Responsible Driving and Accountability Act, which basically removes the presumption of liability against a responsible driver/motorcycle rider in the event of an accident. 

Then, during the 18th Congress, Batangas Congressman, Mario Vittorio Marino, files HB 899, which also aims for fair accountability during a road mishap.

Both proposed laws did not gain traction. Now, during the 19th Congress, Cong. Marino has re-filed HB 899 (now HB 920) which he hopes to get passed into law this year.

According to Cong. Marino, HB 920 aims to "provide quality response during road crashes and fair road crash investigation in accordance with international and domestic standards."

Role of Law Enforcement Units

If HB 920 becomes a law, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), LGUs, and other law enforcement units who are closest to the scene will be the initial or first responders. The PNP will be the lead agency investigating road crashes and will be responsible for assigning a duly-trained traffic investigation team or officer. 

The PNP Highway Patrol Group (HPG), is not considered as first responders and is not required to cover the scene unless there are fatalities, the road is too dangerous for other users and needs to be closed, or when the individuals or parties involved are not cooperative.

Good Samaritan

HB 920 has a provision called the Good Samaritan Rule which means that an offer to pay or payment of medical/hospital bills related to injuries shall not be a presumption for civil/criminal liability for the injuries suffered from the road crash.

Accountability 

To make sure that fairness and accountability to the right party are given, sworn written statements/affidavits and contact details of both parties involved in the crash will be taken to the police station that has jurisdiction over the accident. Culpability shall initially be assessed by the first responders and/or the traffic investigation unit/officer. The final liability will be determined after reviewing video footage from dashcams, action cameras, and CCTVs located in the area.

Driver/rider presumed at fault

The only instances that a motorist is presumed at fault will be the following: driving under the influence (DUI), having no or expired driver's license, having no or expired vehicle registration, having committed a serious traffic violation shortly before the accident, or flees the scene of the crime. 

Victim presumed at fault 

The only instances that victims will be presumed at fault will be the following: when the person was not using a pedestrian lane or designated foot bridge, when a motorcycle rider/cyclist/ was not wearing proper riding gear; tricycle driver driving on a national highway and not on the designated right-most lane, when the person injured/died was not on his/her right of way at the moment of the accident. 

The bill also aims to ensure that all road crash investigations shall be completed within six hours from the reporting of the occurrence of the road crash. After examining the crash investigation report, the Inquest Prosecutor must prepare the corresponding complaint or information within six hours from the receipt of the road crash investigation report. If no probable cause exists, the Inquest Prosecutor shall order the release of the suspected erring driver from custody.

In the interest of fairness, no person shall be forced to shoulder medical, hospital, and other expenses for injuries sustained from road crashes. Also, no person shall be detained for major road crashes for a period of more than twelve hours from the commencement of the investigation. And in no case shall a party or parties be detained for minor road crashes.

Both parties are allowed to negotiate a settlement, but in the event that none is reached, a traffic investigating officer shall indicate such fact in the road crash report and refer the case to the barangay having jurisdiction for the issuance of a Certificate to File an Action.