It’s like the proverbial sword of Damocles above our heads—this is how the 15 members of the newly formed Justitia Lex Machina (JLM) described the Republic Act No. 11235, otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2019. Signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8, 2019, RA11235 was originally scheduled to be implemented on June 30 this year.
The riding community has been up in arms against this new law, saying it’s grossly flawed and discriminatory against the riders. However, the government is sending conflicting signals on whether RA 11235 is temporarily suspended based on the orders of President Duterte during the 25th National Motorcycle Convention in April, or it must proceed as scheduled as repeatedly stated by Senator Richard Gordon, the author of the controversial law.
Also, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) recently conducted two public consultations in order to get feedback from riding communities and motorcycle manufacturers. Several senators and congressmen, meanwhile, have vowed to push for some amendments to RA 11235 when the new Congress opens on July 22.
Amid all the confusion, JLM members think of the present situation as the calm before the storm. So, they’ve decided to put their heads together to stop the implementation of the ‘doble plaka’ law.
Calling the law unconstitutional and discriminatory on the part of the riders, the group has prepared a petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the RA 11235 that they will file before a regional trial court any time now. They are criticizing the provisions that compromise the safety of the rider, as well as the imposition of hefty fines and jail sentence for violators.
By the way, these gentlemen of JLM are not only practicing lawyers, but also hardcore big bikers themselves. Although they agreed to be photographed during our recent meeting, they prefer to remain nameless in this article. Moto Sapiens will come up with a feature about these legal minds soon.
In the meantime, here are the arguments raised by Justitia Lex Machina against the RA 11235:
- Since there are still no implementing rules and regulations (IRR), the said law is still not yet subject to implementation.
- It violates existing commercial and trade rules.
- It violates the ‘Equal Protection Clause’ under the Constitution: no valid classification if ever its main purpose is to curb criminality. Both the motorcycles and cars use the road every day, so there is more reason that it shall also cover the same class that is also similarly situated. Not only motorcycle owners are capable of doing criminal acts—it also covers the owners of cars and other four-wheeled vehicles. Limiting the regulatory aspect to two-wheeled vehicles poses no substantial distinction.
- It is not germane to the law’s objective. The purpose of the law is to promote peace and order, and to deter criminality. It should not limit the strict and tedious impositions of regulatory and penalizing certain acts for motorcycle owners only. It generalizes that all operators/owners of the motorcycle are susceptible to committing crimes, which is not the case in real life.
- It is not limited to existing conditions. Since time immemorial, there have been crimes committed through various means of using motor vehicles. In fact, one of the oldest laws, the Revised Penal Code, includes the general term “use of a motor vehicle” as an aggravating circumstance because the framers had the foresight that this medium may be used in commissions of crimes and other forms of a felony. In the advent of the low-installment schemes for the four-wheeled vehicles, more and more citizens are purchasing cars, and there is a high probability that these will be also accessible to bad elements and may be used in perpetrating crimes.
- It does not apply equally to members of the same class. It focuses on a certain class (motorcycle owners) in order to achieve the purpose of curbing criminality, which is not exclusively attainable through the use of motorcycles.
- It imposes an arbitrary penalty of imprisonment to motorcycle owners despite its being a mere regulatory law.
- There is no clear-cut standard that will provide a sense of security and promotion of peace and order in giving stiff regulatory provisions for motorcycle owners.