A plan to ban dangling rosaries and other religious “distractions” from the dashboards of vehicles has prompted an outcry from the Catholic Church — which insists divine protection is essential on Philippine roads.
The new rules were laid out in the Anti-distracted Driving Act, which mainly focused on the use of electronic devices while driving but also extended to religious trinkets on dashboards.
A priest claims that rosaries and small religious statues in vehicles do not cause accidents.
While he agreed with prohibiting the use of cell phones when driving, Father Jerome Secillano said he did not agree with the LTFRB ban on rosaries and religious statuettes in cars.
He said: “The LTFRB is absolutely missing the point by prohibiting the display of small religious images in cars.”
Secillano pointed out that it was not the rosaries that caused accidents on the road, but mechanical problems and the drivers’ ignorance and abusive behaviour.
Piston, an association of jeepney drivers and owners, said no data showed that rosaries and religious trinkets caused accidents. “Do not meddle with the drivers’ faith in God,” said its president, George San Mateo.
Senators have described the rules as “overacting” and “excessive”, expressing amazement that rosaries and car air fresheners were among the items prohibited.
Senator J V Ejercito called for a review of the law.
He said: “They expanded the law… because the real intention of the law really concentrated on talking and texting, using the phone in a vehicle or by drivers.
“Looks like the officials did not understand the essence of the law. They have made matters complicated, when it’s basically just about banning the use of cell phones while driving.”
He asked that the DOTr reconsider its restrictions on the placement of cell phones within the line of sight of drivers, especially when being used for navigational purposes.