ICC Stickers

Today I just got my helmet ICC validated in the strangest of situations: after arguing on the phone, I went straight to the BPS main office to get my helmet validated and “stickered.” This obviously isn’t the SOP, and I admit my [ultimate] reason for arguing this route was the simple fact that I didn’t want to be inconvenienced with lining up in the mall.

First me explain the whole “scenario” – then you can go ahead and judge me for breaking schedule/procedures.

Stupid Law is Stupid

There is a law that has been passed (but has been deferred to the start of 2103) which require all motorcycle helmets to have an Import Commodity Certification (ICC) from the Bureau of Products and Standards.

This sticker is said to be a “stamp of approval” for any consumer product to have passed certain quality/safety standards applicable to the said product. If you heard the recent news about the warning about christmas lights, the “stickers” they mention are the exact same stickers being talked about in this post.

That certainly is a good thing, I mean why would anyone not want some quality standard enforced, right? Which is why I’m not saying it’s a useless law. I’m saying it’s a retarded one – because it’s poorly thought out on so many levels – from purpose to implementation.

1st world is better than 3rd world

It may seem too judgmental, but consider this: as far as the helmets go, there seems to be no true testing for “ICC standards” apart from cosmetic inspection. In short, to have your helmet validated, the only thing you need is for your helmet to have all the parts intact and “working” (there are exceptions but you get what I mean) – regardless if the helmet is up to safety standards.

They have a list of brands that have already passed the standard 1 which may imply there’s at least that possibility that they may have actually tested those (which I doubt) and decided to generalize that any model of a particular brand would most likely be up to par – which makes sense. I mean if you’re a top-tier helmet brand, why on earth would you sell substandard helmets, so I’ll let that slide.

But again, the reason I think it’s poorly thought-out is because it for the most part, it ends up inconveniencing a whole demographic which needn’t be inconvenienced.

I can understand the need for some semblance of standard certification for locally made helmets (or fakes), so sure require an ICC sticker on those, but helmets which already are officially rated as DOT/ECE/SNELL (or all three) compliant – all of which, by the way, require real testing to even be approved, I don’t see the point of putting those at risk of being flagged for an inferior standard.

In short, here I have my S2 – a $700 top-tier helmet by Schuberth 2 A brand helmet used by no less than the likes of Michael Schumacher which is both DOT and ECE rated… and I can still be caught and accused of not having a “safe” helmet – simply because it doesn’t have a certain sticker which to get, based on what I’ve both seen and read – only requires your helmet to be cosmetically complete.

But hey, the law is the law, so sure – and the sticker is given for free anyway – so it wouldn’t hurt to just get it validated right? It would depend how convenient the validation process is.

Convenience

Convenience is now a legitimate argument to make because, as I’ve been trying to say, the level of this “standard” is pointless for helmets that already have passed internationally accepted standards. So by nature the whole ICC requirement is already an inconvenience to begin with – the only thing that will make it worth going through is if it’s extremely easy to get.

And no, it being “free” doesn’t count as extremely easy. Making it free doesn’t make up for the fact that you can be wasting hours of your day. I personally would rather pay up to a hundred bucks for an otherwise pointless sticker if it meant being able to get in and out of the validation process in seconds/minutes.

My Experience

Now I said that I ended up breaking protocol and ended up going directly to the Bureau of Products and Services to get my sticker – and here’s why.

This whole ICC info campaign is said to have gone on for the past 6 months but I only got my helmet the past two months along with my bike. Also I’m a new motorcycle rider – and not a regular rider at that. I don’t have a group, nor am I deep into the “riding culture” just yet.

Now sure, let’s say that one has to do their due diligence when getting into motorcycles – so sure no excuses for not knowing that the sticker will be required come 2013. But the timing is still impractical. They only issue stickers on weekends, and only on select places.

I went to Megamall during on Friday morning and the line was just too damn long! It would literally end up like an NBI clearance nightmare where people would have to line up the whole goddamn day just to get a sticker. And again, the prospect is maddening because of the aforementioned “retarded premise” of the requirement. Unlike lining up for a real necessity like a passport, license, etc. I’m lining up for god knows how long for something which my helmet shouldn’t need in the first place.

My point is if you’re going to mandate something stupid by law, the least you could do is make it really easy for people right (and we go back to the whole earlier “convenience” topic)?

But you can’t accuse me of not trying, I tried lining up, already told my dad to wait at this coffee place (since we had just come from lunch at the Atrium) while I lined up – only to find out that the huge churchgoer-esque group I was trying to append myself onto wasn’t even the line proper – the actual line was at the stairs… which reached down to the ground floor! Fuck that!!!

So I left the mall, and decided to go straight to DTI across Megamall. Yeah, it’s inconvenient to have no practical way to just cross the street so I drove there from the mall. As I expected, there were no lines, in fact. But surprise surprise – they said that you can only get the sticker in Megamall!

The whole scheduling and location logistics pisses me off because in simply moving the locations (where you should really be adding) – all you’re doing is redirecting the same volume of people to process from what’s supposed to be a single location (DTI Highway 54) to another (Megamall). Sure, it allows the entire line to be in an air-conditioned area – but it doesn’t, in any goddamn way make things more efficient!!!

So I decided to still do my due diligence and come back to DTI during a weekday – certainly that was a reasonable thought right? And to be sure I’d go real early to be first in line should there be a line. So the plan was go straight to DTI at 8am – that way I’m not even second guessing the mall opening (10am) vs regular government offices opening (8am). You can’t even say I’m being a brat with this because it’s much more of a hassle to go to DTI than to Megamall driving-wise. But I didn’t mind the hassle as long as it was quicker to get it done.

That’s exactly what I did yesterday – first thing in the morning, I go to DTI and lo and behold, apparently they only do the whole sticker validation on weekends!!! Now I was really getting pissed. It pissed me off because as I mentioned earlier, if you’re lining up for a license renewal, etc. etc. you have 5 days to choose from. This means you have 5 chances of getting lucky that not everyone decided to go on that day. But with weekend schedules – that means you’re just limited to 2 days – and that automatically means that everyone will be going on those days.

It’s common sense: 2 days means you’re have a chance of dispersing an X number of people by 2. As compared to being available for the whole workweek – you have the chance of distributing that to volume across 5 days. And knowing the Filipino mentality, everyone’s going to cram that shit – so that means people like me who actually try to plan have a good chance of getting a decent line if we went on the earlier days. But no! That has been rendered useless because they decided that you can only do it on 2 days during the weekend.

Again, as with the location, they should be adding dates, not deferring. Validation services 5 days of the week, then add weekend services to increase efficiency.

Reasons or Excuses?

So I obviously wasn’t going to get the sticker from them that day, but I demanded the logic behind having validation services only on weekends and why they only do it in select places and not every DTI branch. These were the answers they gave which I will shoot down one by one:

Lack of Manpower

Normally I’d accept this logic, but again given the premise that it’s a stupid law to begin with, it’s maddening why you would force an implementation of something which you [obviously] don’t have the resources to deploy properly.

I love using the license analogy – because you need a drivers license – you have no choice but to line up and put up with whatever crappy system is out there – but with helmets it’s different: we have multiple standards from 1st world countries that are already available and implemented in most brand-name helmets that are in the heads of Philippine riders, and yet the law, instead of simply recognizing such accreditation, they’re requiring the addition of an inferior one.

Also during my visit to DTI, there were NO LINES. The “waiting chairs” were mostly empty – save for 4-5 people seated. There were like only 3 of us who went there for the sticker. You’re seriously going to tell me that you’re “swamped” and can’t don’t have the manpower to take a fucking minute to check a helmet and put a sticker on it!? BULL. SHIT.

Solution:

Spread out the validation to more days (i.e. weekdays) simple as that – you don’t necessarily have to add people (of course it would be better if you did) if you give people more chances during the week to get validated – not limit everything to a single weekend session.

If your helmet has been bought recently, it should already have the ICC sticker

Yes I agree, assuming that all helmets are bought locally – and that all helmet brands are being sold here. If you can find me a store that sells Schuberth helmets here then by all means I’ll go out there and buy a second ICC-stickered Schuberth this very instant 3 Since I’ll probably need a second one anyways just in case the I get into a major accident and break the first. Or how about requiring all helmet brands to be sold in the Philippines? Or how about requiring ICC internationally, so that when we actually buy them from other countries, they’d already have the sticker – can you do that? I’m obviously being sarcastic, but you see how retarded this requirement is.

Solution:

Simply recognize international safety ratings which are obviously better than the ICC “standard.” At least this still allows the ICC requirement but make it more sensible by simply using the word “either.” For example: Require helmets to have either the ICC or any other internationally recognized safety standard.

The info campaign went on for 6 months

Their logic here is that there was ample time to have your helmet validated – which is true. And it’s also true that people tend to do everything at the last minute – which is why this month is such a horrible time to try to get validated.

However these people haven’t stopped to think about the possibility that the helmet had just arrived from another country. What if it’s a Christmas gift that just arrived this month? No matter how early you’re willing to have your helmet validated – if you don’t actually have it in your possession, then you can’t do shit with it.

It’s unfair to those people who have just gotten their imported helmets – because now they’ve got no choice but to line up with the rest of the “last-minute” crowd even if they were perfectly willing to go way before if they could. Doubly so because those helmets have the same if not better safety ratings than the ICC approved brands being sold locally.

Also, it’s a fact that they don’t have any “scheme” for 2013 (not yet at least) – I know because I asked if I could just try my luck in having my helmet validated next year – along with with the others that were bought from different countries during the new year. Surely they should’ve thought about that possibility right? Well they didn’t, and they couldn’t give me an answer on how they intend to deal with that inevitable scenario.

I’m sure they’ll come up with something, but it’s annoying that they lacked have the foresight to think about something so obvious. Did they honestly think people would start buying helmets exclusively from the Philippines just because of that ICC sticker? Of course not!

Solution:

Continue the validation services – but now perhaps you can scale down to the weekend thing, because let’s be honest here: the real issue when it comes to safety standards is those old “masa helmets” which are worth shit. Helmets bought by stupid squid riders, who don’t know (and can’t afford) any better. That’s what the ICC is really “solving.”

But take riders like me, we don’t buy helmets because they’re cheap – we buy them because we value our fucking skulls. You’d be hard pressed to find a rider from our demographic (middle-class upwards) that would buy something like an “Index” helmet (With or without the ICC sticker) – simply because we don’t fucking trust the brand! We are more likely to be willing to pay more for brands we can actually trust with our lives – and we’re the people who can and will buy brands/models that aren’t available locally.

So if you think about it, by 2013 when all the “masa helmets” are now required to have stickers by then, and all locally sold helmets already have the stickers – then it’s not unreasonable to have weekend validations – since there will be only two types of people who need validation by then: The few left who had to finally validate because they got caught and fined, and people people who bought [premium] helmets outside of the country. Either way, you cannot and should not stop validation services.

Other Reasons why the Law is Stupid

Workarounds

The ICC sticker is a universal one – it’s used with other “ICC approved” products as well, like your christmas lights, or electrical tape. If you know how to peel it off without stripping the hologram protection, then you can just transplant the sticker from any other product – and no one would be the wiser.

Enforcement

How effectively can a policeman catch a rider without the ICC sticker? The sticker is usually placed at the back of the helmet – so technically, by the time the cop sees the absence of the sticker, he’d be too far behind to even mount a chase.

The only way you can actually catch/fine riders for the ICC violation is if they violate some other traffic rule that required you to flag them down – that, or if there was some police checkpoint that required everyone to stop – otherwise, this is practically unenforceable given the purpose of the requirement which is to prevent people from wearing unsafe helmets.


All these arguments were in the conversation I had with the BPS people (the body that ultimately supplies the stickers) on the phone. It’s also worth mentioning that you cannot really pinpoint which government body is responsible for this clusterfuck – which is pretty goddamn annoying. DTI makes excuses that BPS supplies them with the stickers and evaluators (ergo their hands are tied as far as when and where they are able to provide the services). Then BPS mentions the MMDA for requiring the rule to begin with.

Anyways, long story short – after leveling all the previously mentioned arguments (as chicken and egg as they may have sounded) the woman on the phone finally said “Sige sir, punta kayo dito sa main office sa Makati within the day and meron mag-a-acommodate sa inyo.” She probably thought having me going to Makati was enough to scare me to reconsider – but she forgets that I’d rather spend time driving to a relatively far venue in an air-conditioned car with my iPod and internet – than standing in line with smelly people for hours on end (unless it’s walking distance, then I’d have our maid wait in line LOL).

I arrived there nearing lunch. I decided to park at Chick Boy (Jupiter) across the DTI building and told the guard I’d be doing some stuff first, but will be eating at their establishment. Thankfully he had no problems with my “plan.”

I got in, and got the sticker in 15 minutes 4 Most of the delay was trying to explain to every person I had to talk to before I got to the actual person I was looking for why I had went straight to their office – when there were appointed places to do the validation – and since it was right beside the SSS building, I figured I’d try to get my SSS card 5 all these years I’ve only had my SSS number processed as well. The funny thing was, I had no idea of the process for the SSS card application – and yet I finished it in about the same time – only the lunch break in between delayed everything.

In light of my “experience” yesterday – I really find it inexcusable that you’ve got relatively streamlined processes for government related stuff (License, SSS, etc.) that are far more important than a stupid ICC sticker, and yet it seems to be easier to get those than this stupid requirement.


You know the funny thing is, I hate how they stuck the sticker on my helmet – it’s not fucking aligned! So now I’m seriously considering looking for “smuggled” stickers somewhere so I can just re-do it. It’s not a moral dilemma for me since I got the sticker legitimately. Even in the worst case that they actually find out it’s the wrong sticker (since they’ve to serial numbers) – there’s still an official record of my helmet being “approved” (it would just be a hassle to go through the motions of proving it) – and that’s really the point of this whole ICC shit right – that you have a helmet that is up to ICC standards. And now you see how stupid this law actually is.

In any case, if anyone out there knows where I can source these stickers, email me privately 🙂

Notes   [ + ]

1. which may imply there’s at least that possibility that they may have actually tested those (which I doubt) and decided to generalize that any model of a particular brand would most likely be up to par
2. A brand helmet used by no less than the likes of Michael Schumacher
3. Since I’ll probably need a second one anyways just in case the I get into a major accident and break the first.
4. Most of the delay was trying to explain to every person I had to talk to before I got to the actual person I was looking for why I had went straight to their office – when there were appointed places to do the validation
5. all these years I’ve only had my SSS number

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