Motorcycle clubs express outrage over the new law on double license plates

‘We felt betrayed by our fellow riders in the Senate’
by Aris Ilagan | Mar 15, 2019
PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

How many ways can an individual group air its grievances? Let us count the ways.

Through memes, social-media comments, street protests, hunger strikes, withdrawals of political support, and many more. Name it, it will be done.

President Duterte signed Republic Act 11235 into law. Otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, it has caused ripples in the riding community. Most of the riders were surprised over the move of the chief executive, who is a rider himself. Through their Viber groups, the riders also felt they were betrayed by some of the senators, who are also known to be motorcycle enthusiasts but voted in favor of the passage of the law.

RA 11235 imposes jail terms and imprisonment for the use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime. Under the law that was signed by the president on March 8 but was only made public by Malacañang yesterday, the Land Transportation Office is required to issue bigger, more legible, and color-coded number plates to be mounted on the front and back of every motorcycle. These number plates must be readable from the front, back, and side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least 15 meters. The agency will also implement a color scheme on the plate numbers for every region for quick and easy identification by law enforcement units.

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But even during the initial stages of this issue tackled in Congress, rider groups and even the motorcycle manufacturers were against the mounting of a bigger license plate in front of the bike for safety reasons. So these stakeholders were caught with their pants down when Malacañang announced that RA 11235 had been signed into law.

“We LMFI (Luzon Motorcycle Federation, Inc.) officers, strongly reject the government’s implementation of the 2 license plate policy,” said the group’s president Wawi Villanueva, also head of the Bicol Steel Horses big bikers club.

LMFI cited several reasons why it’s opposing the new law. The main one is the government’s alleged failure to hold consultations with motorcycle organizations regarding the issue. “Safety issues of the riders, commuters, pedestrians, and other road users are at risk due to the installation of the license plate in front of the motorcycle which is not designed and have no provision to hold license plates,” LMFI said in an official statement that circulated on social media.

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“Having 2 license plates and increasing the size of the license plates do not end street crimes just because there are very few criminals caught or put to jail due to the poor and slow justice system or no police visibility,” the group emphasized.

However, Senator JV Ejercito says there is still a ray of hope in addressing the issue of front license plate for motorbikes as the drafting of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for the controversial law has yet to happen. An avid rider, Ejercito is an active member of the big bike organizations.

“I have been talking to concerned agencies particularly LTO on the IRR draft,” Ejercito said. “I brought up safety concern of putting a big plate on motorcycles especially in front. Made some suggestions to make it safe like use sticker or RFID instead,” the senator posted in motorcycle Viber groups.

Authored by senators Richard Gordon and Vicente Sotto III, RA 11235 was approved unanimously in the Upper Chamber before it made its way to Malacañang for the president’s signature.

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Well, time continues to click against some six million owners of registered motorcycles in the country because the RA 11235 takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or a national newspaper.

Riders, do you believe miracles can happen?

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PHOTO: Aris Ilagan
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