Public interest law group ImagineLaw on Sunday urged the Philippine government to “save 1,670 children’s lives yearly by preventing road crashes” in the country.
The group said the public should be alarmed that 1,670 Filipino children and young people (0-19 years old) are killed by road crashes every year, citing data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).
“Injuries and deaths due to road crashes are preventable,” said lawyer Daphne Marcelo, ImagineLaw’s Project Manager for Road Safety, during a mural unveiling for the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims at a children’s park in Manila.
In September this year, a four-year-old girl was killed after being hit by a sports utility vehicle (SUV) in Malate.
In the same month, another four-year-old child and his father were killed because of a road crash in South Cotabato involving more than a dozen vehicles.
“The government, in partnership with stakeholders, should continue improving road infrastructure, updating policies and enforcing traffic laws to make sure they are inclusive of children’s safety,” said Marcelo.
“Playing outside or commuting to school should not be a death sentence for children,” she said.
“Every [road] death is preventable,” said Robert Siy of Move As One Coalition, a transport and mobility advocacy group.
“[W]e should not pull back on our road safety campaign until we bring the number of Filipinos killed or injured from road crashes down to zero,” he said.
According to ImagineLaw, blaming parents solely for road crash deaths among children is “unproductive, misguided, and myopic.”
“Everyone – government and community leaders, parents and teachers, and road users – has a role to play in making our streets safe for children,” said Marcelo said.
“Our road system should be designed to protect the lives of the most vulnerable road users such as children and pedestrians,” she added.
“The ideal street for a child with disability should have extra lane and railings,” said Hannah Estepa, a 15-year-old visually-impaired child-advocate from the Youth Alliance for Road Discipline.
“Our streets are far too hostile for a child to even simply exercise their right to play,” said Nicole Anne Cobarrubias of AltMobility, another advocacy group.
“In our commitment to building safer streets, we will be more firm in prioritizing children’s safety above motor vehicles,” she said.