After whipping up a firestorm of criticism on social media, Cainta Mayor Kit Nieto has apologized for not wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle.
Last October 30, Nieto posted a Facebook photo of himself on a motorcycle en route to a wedding ceremony.
“Late na sa kasal.. eh ninong … para-paraan lang para umabot (I’m late for a wedding where I’m a godfather. Have to find ways to make it),” Nieto said.
However, a number of netizens were quick to point out that the mayor failed to wear a helmet. Some said that leaders should set as a good example by being a law-abiding citizens.
”Good example begins with oneself… where’s your helmet mayor?” a netizen commented on Nieto’s post.
But instead of admitting fault, the mayor defended his action and retorted that he didn’t wear a helmet because of a waiver he supposedly signed that “absolves anyone from liability” if an incident occurred.
“I will wear it when I need it… I have a pre signed waiver that absolves anyone from liability for any injury I sustain because of my decision not to wear it… particularly on occasions when I know it is not necessary,” Nieto said.
As the issue eventually blew up on social media, road safety advocate and motoring journalist James Deakin called out Nieto’s excuse, saying that he didn’t realize that someone could sign a waiver that “absolves everyone of liability.”
“I didn’t realize you could sign a waiver when you break the law that absolves everyone of liability, including yourself. This is interesting. Very interesting indeed. I was today years old when I learned this. How about you? I wonder if this applies to all laws?” Deakin said.
As the issue developed, Deakin, in another Facebook post, shared a screenshot of Nieto’s post on his wall, explaining that the waiver he supposedly signed is meant to protect other people and not himself.
“Try to read it again and tell me where in the reply did I ever insinuate that I am absolved of culpability… that I can do it just because I am a mayor,” Nieto said.
In response, Deakin said that Nieto should just acknowledge his fault and apologize, saying that “when you’re wrong, you’re wrong.”
“Do not compound it with patronizing statements that will only serve to erode the confidence and respect that you have built up with your people. You are better than that sir,” Deakin said.
“If it’s not meant to absolve you, as you pointed out, then just admit that you were in violation and apologize and pay the fine. As it is, you are coming across as defending your defiance of the law. Whether or not that is your intention, that’s how it is seen,” Deakin added.
Nieto later posted a public apology, admitting that he offers “no excuses for breaching the law.”
“I make this public apology to all who have witnessed me riding a motorcycle without a helmet heading towards a church to attend a wedding,” Nieto declared.
“I only attempted to explain what happened and why I did it.. but it does not in any way exempt me from complying with what is required by our laws,” he added.
Nieto said that he “should have been more circumspect in maintaining the image of a compliant citizen given the position I hold.”
On Monday, Nieto went to the LTO to get a citation ticket and retrieve his driver’s license.