Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has urged her colleagues to revisit Republic Act (RA) 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Law, to prevent its adverse impact on the millions of law-abiding riders and motorcycle owners, especially amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In filing Senate Resolution (SR) No. 469, De Lima maintained that the government should focus their limited resources on apprehending and prosecuting criminals instead of overburdening law-abiding motorcycle owners.
“With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, not only are government offices like the [Land Transportation Office] LTO operating at reduced capacity, but the use of motorcycles have become more prevalent following the ban on, or limited operations of, public transportation,” she said.
“Before the government can penalize those who could not comply with the strict obligations under R.A. No. 11235, there must first be a determination that the LTO is capable of meeting the accompanying bureaucratic requirements under this law, lest this would be tantamount to requiring an impossible task of the motorcycle owners,” she added.
RA 11235, or widely known as the “Doble Plaka” law, which was signed by Mr. Duterte as early as March 29, 2019, requires all types of motorcycles to have bigger number plates in the front and back as it sets fines of up to PhP100,000 and imprisonment for violators.
A month after signing it into law, however, Mr. Duterte asked Congress to reconsider the provisions pertaining to the size and the material of the front number plate and called for the reduction of the penalties on certain violations under the law.
LTO Chief Edgar Galvante signed the 13-page Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) of RA 11235 stipulating that the LTO shall issue a set of bigger, readable, and color-coded number plate for every motorcycle, which shall consist of a metal number plate to be installed at the rear of a motorcycle, and a decal number plate to be displayed in its front, last May 11,
According to the IRR, the front decal will be 135mm wide and 85mm tall while the rear plate, which shall be made from a “suitable and durable aluminum substrate material”, will be 235mm wide and 135mm tall.
While the IRR became effective last June 6, the LTO said the portion requiring the placement of revised plates will be suspended until the plates become available in their office between July and September.
“Motorcycle rider groups decried this law stating that license plates compliant with this law will compromise the safety of the motorcycles,” De Lima noted.
“While the matter of the plates are being procured, the extremely disproportionate penalties are still in effect, making it very difficult for motorcycles to operate,” she added.
Moreover, the critical provisions of RA 11235 imposing heavy penalties and jail terms for violators were retained in the IRR despite the President’s appeal.
De Lima, a social justice and human rights champion, underscored the need to determine the veracity of the argument that bigger plates would ultimately result in motorcycles becoming unsafe for the riders, pedestrians, and other road users.
“While it is true that many crimes are committed with the use of motorcycles, the offenders constitute only a very small population of our motorcycle riders with the vast majority being law-abiding riders and motorcycle owners,” she said.
“To overly focus on the bureaucratic requirements under R.A. No. 11235 is to veer away from the original intent of the law to suppress criminality related to motorcycle use. This could result in overburdening our law enforcement agencies with cases involving delayed registration which would take the precious resources away from apprehending and prosecuting actual criminals,” she added.
Recently, the government’s task force on the coronavirus disease allowed pillion rides for couples but they are required to install the approved barrier designs amid its safety risks to riders.