Who is the man that convinced the President to suspend the ‘doble plaka’ law?

This motocross legend is also Duterte’s good friend and riding buddy
by Aris Ilagan | Apr 8, 2019
PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

Senator Joseph Victor ‘JV’ Ejercito cannot hide his elation at President Rodrigo Duterte’s call to suspend the implementation of the newly signed Republic Act No. 11235, otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act.

“For me, it’s more like an imprimatur for the conduct of a thorough study and discussion among stakeholders to fully understand the law, especially the source of complaint and confusion, with the end view of coming up with a common formula to ensure the safety of riders while the law’s anti-criminality objective is being achieved,” Ejercito said in a statement sent to Moto Sapiens.

“The motorcycle community, like the rest of the Filipino people, wants the President’s campaign against criminality to succeed,” he added. At the same time, he expressed gratitude to Duterte, whom he described as the ‘listening president.’

Let’s refresh our memories: Ejercito, a known motorcycle enthusiast, became an instant punching bag on social media for being one of the signatories of RA 11235. He later explained that the salient points of the law—particularly the front motorcycle license plates and the hefty penalties to be imposed on violators—had escaped his attention when he affixed his signature to the document as he was busy pushing for more important measures like the Universal Health Care Law. He apologized for the oversight, and vowed to push for changes to the two aforementioned critical provisions of the ‘doble plaka’ law.

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Meanwhile, outraged riders were staging protests against the controversial measure. Ejercito was in a race against time to personally discuss the issue with Duterte, because RA 11235 was set to be implemented in June 2019. Then someone advised him: “Look for Butch Chase.”

Before the controversy erupted last month, Ejercito and Chase hardly knew each other. Ejercito then learned from reliable sources that Chase is one of Duterte’s few rider-friends whom the President listens to especially on matters pertaining to two-wheelers. Ejercito felt he needed a backup. And so the wild chase began.

There’s a saying that brotherhood is forged through motorcycling. “The Mayor (as Duterte prefers to be called by his peers) and I met sometime in 1993. We rode together in Mindanao,” Chase recalled. Their riding escapades only dwindled after Duterte became more preoccupied with politics and Chase focused on his bar in Puerto Princesa City and other business ventures.

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On the other hand, Ejercito first met Chase during the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines (NFMCP) National Motorcycle Convention in Bicol last year. There, the senator personally witnessed how dear Chase is to the President.

On April 4, Ejercito and Chase once again crossed paths during the campaign trail of administration candidates led by President Duterte. Again, someone told Ejercito to get the backing of Chase in a bid to win Duterte’s support.

Ejercito did not immediately approach Chase on that occasion; instead, he discreetly got the rider’s number and sent a message a day after. At that point, Chase realized that both of them were on the same wavelength with regard to the ‘doble plaka’ issue. So, Chase did not think twice about facilitating Ejercito’s meeting with the President despite the latter’s tight schedule. He and Ejercito also did their homework by exchanging notes on RA 11235’s contentious points and plotting their responses to any arguments that the President could raise.

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Out of the blue, a friend from the Presidential Management Staff called to say that there was a chance for them to meet with Duterte—during fellowship night of this year’s NFMCP National Motorcycle Convention in Iloilo on April 6. Right at the venue, Malacañang representatives got the three together in a briefing room before Duterte walked toward the rostrum to make his big announcement on RA 11235.

“We (riders) needed a miracle. A miracle happened,” Ejercito said.

More on Butch Chase: A rock star among riders in the ’80s when he raked in trophies and medals in the national motocross series, this Caucasian-looking Palawan resident is a cool, well-respected member of the riding community. Up to now, he thinks and breathes motorbikes. A real classic guy, he hates talking in English.

What’s more, Chase is also known for patching up differences within major motorcycle organizations.

Sadly, the younger generations don’t know this 67-year-old hall of famer of the Golden Wheel Awards, the highest award-giving body in local motorsports. “Napagkamalan nga akong delivery boy ng isang media,” he said with an explosive laugh.

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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