9 Points raised by riders’ group seeking TRO vs. ‘doble plaka’ law

Medialdea, Tugade, Galvante among those named as respondents in the petition
by Aris Ilagan | Aug 26, 2019
PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

A motorcycle group composed of practicing lawyers has brought the controversial Republic Act No. 11235, otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, to the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC).

In filing a petition for declaratory relief, the 15 members of Justitia Lex Machina (JLM), represented by group treasurer Galeleo ‘Gally’ Angeles, are also hoping that the court will issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the implementation of RA 11235, which should have taken effect last June 31, 2019. Named respondents in the petition filed on August 13, 2019, were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and agency chief Edgar Galvante of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

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RA 11235 was signed into law by no less than President Rodrigo Duterte on March 8, 2019. One month later, the Chief Executive did a 180, claiming that RA 11235 is grossly flawed and unjust for the owners of 18 million registered motorcycles in the country. So, he ordered the suspension of the law’s implementation as he called on the Congress to initiate amendments. Despite the President’s order, however, there are reports claiming that the LTO continues to draft the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for RA 11235.

Instead of just waiting to see how the ‘doble plaka’ issue plays out, JLM has decided to take the battle to the QC RTC. In the meantime, Moto Sapiens has taken the liberty to highlight some critical points from the 18-page petition:

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  1. The provisions in RA 11235 tend to create a chilling effect on motorcycle users and owners in the government’s pursuit of ridding the country of the menace of crimes at all cost while sacrificing the legitimate rights of motorcycles owners and users, the majority of whom are peaceful and law-abiding citizens.
  2. RA 11235 is strongly rejected by the motorcycle community as evidenced by the staging of unity rides involving some 10,000 riders simultaneously in the different parts of the country to question the law’s constitutionality.
  3. Public hearings/consultations were conducted by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) preparatory to RA 11235’s full implementation on June 30, 2019, but none came out with clarifications on the alleged flaws of the newly passed law.
  4. RA 11235 is unjust and oppressive to the riding community because of the inclusion of prison terms and hefty penalties when a motorcycle owner fails to register his vehicle on time, for reasons beyond the owner’s control or by sheer inadvertence.
  5. The task of solving the problem of motorcycle-riding criminals is not the job of riders. Granted that motorcycles are the favorite getaway vehicles of criminals, it is still unlawful to put the blame and burden on the motorcycle riders in general. Also, criminals will not use their own motorcycles and real plates to break the law.
  6. With regard to the penalty against erasing, tampering, forging, imitating, covering, or concealing a number plate, there’s no logic and common sense in jailing a rider (arresto mayor) should any of the aforementioned be done to his motorcycle’s number plate without his knowledge.
  7. It is a fact that not only motorcycles are being used in the commission crimes—four-wheeled vehicles are also utilized for this purpose. So why pounce on two-wheelers only?
  8. The motorcycle industry will suffer when the ‘doble plaka’ law is implemented since it requires front plates to be installed plates on motorbikes. Without the provisions for the mounting of the front license plate, the importation and sale of motorcycles in the Philippines will have to cease.
  9. The law is vague as it mandates that all plates must always be legible and easy to read, and that positioning it too low, too high, or too slanted could be an enforcement issue and prone to abuse by law enforcers.

Well, this is the first legal move by private individuals to stop the implementation of RA 11235. And we’ve told that the first hearing on the petition is set to happen on September 6, 2019. Do you think JLM’s arguments will hold up in court?

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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