By Cecille Suerte Felipe, March 20 2019; Philippine Star

Image Credit to Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — The Land Transportation Office (LTO) is considering the use of stickers/decals or radio frequency identification (RFID) in the front of motorcycles to address some safety concerns of riders, Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said yesterday.

Ejercito presided over a meeting with officials of the LTO and riders clubs, who are involved in the crafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of Republic Act 11235 or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act.

“What’s good is that Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante of the LTO is very open to suggestions. In fact, he prefers decals in lieu of metal plates, either decal or RFID which is even better so that we will become high-tech,” the senator told reporters after the meeting.

President Duterte has enacted a law requiring larger, readable and color-coded number plates for motorcycles as part of crime prevention efforts.

Ejercito said he took the initiative to meet stakeholders to be affected by the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act to ensure that their concerns will be addressed in crafting the IRR.

“Well, there was outrage among the riders during the signing of the Motorcycle (Crime Prevention) Act. Most of them surmised that we would have two metal plates. I understand the sentiments of the riders because its really their safety that will be somehow compromised,” Ejercito added.

Aside from the use of stickers/decals or RFID in front of motorcycles, Ejercito said two other main concerns were raised during the meeting.

“Three main issues were discussed. First, the plates in front of motorcycles should already be decals or RFID. Second, the hefty fines will only be imposed if there is already a command center. And the harassment by some authorities on motorcycle riders,” he added.

The LTO will determine the font style and size of the number plates and devise a color scheme of the plates for every region where a motorcycle is registered for easy identification.

If a motorcycle is used to commit a crime that constitutes a grave felony under the Revised Penal Code or to escape from the scene of a crime, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger will be slapped with reclusion temporal or a jail term that lasts for 12 years and one day to 20 years) to reclusion perpetua (imprisonment for 20 years and a day to 30 years).

If a motorcycle is used to commit a crime constituting a less grave felony, the offenders will be punished by prision correccional or a jail term of six months and one day to six years to prision mayor, a jail term of six years and one day to 12 years.

A person who drives a motorcycle without a number plate or a readable number plate will be punished by prision correccional or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000 or both.

‘Give law a chance’

Amid the growing clamor against the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) is asking motorcycle riders to give a chance to the new law while waiting for its IRR.

Bong Nebrija, MMDA’s traffic czar for EDSA, said he understands the sentiments of the motorcycle riders against the law, but asked them to give the law a chance and air their grievances as soon as the LTO drafts the IRR on it.

“The best people who can see to improve this are the riders themselves. But this is already a law; let’s wait for the IRR of this. Let’s give a chance to see the IRR. These (issues) are something that they could come up with (during the drafting of the IRR),” Nebrija said in a radio interview.

The law, according to Nebrija, has a very good intention as he admitted that traffic enforcers and other law enforcers would have a hard time identifying the plate numbers of motorcycles used by some in criminal activities.

“The law was created because of cases of riding-in-tandem. It’s hard to see the plate numbers on CCTV because they are so small. If they will not follow, they will be arrested and slapped with a fine of P50,000 to P100,000,” he said.

“(Bigger plates) will affect the aerodynamics of the motor because of the wind strength; it is the hard point. But on how to address it will come out in the IRR,” he added.

Nebrija also clarified that they could not yet tell if the MMDA will be part of the groups that will apprehend motorcycle riders who will defy the law, as he emphasized that they are still waiting for its IRR and requests from the LTO.

He said they could only start apprehending motorcycle riders once the IRR comes out and if they would be deputized by the LTO.   – With Robertzon Ramirez