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Safety or security: Cordillera split on helmet law

THESE MOTORCYCLE police officers trained hard in 2008. Like the rest of the motorcycle riders, they will soon be required to use the legally prescribed helmet once they take to the streets. EV ESPIRITU/INQUIRER NORTHERN LUZON

BAGUIO CITY—The law requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets will be fully enforced by 2013 but Cordillera leaders expressed reservations as to its impact on reforms aimed at curbing incidents of political violence.

During the regional law enforcement coordination council (RLECC) meeting last week, the police and the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) discussed how motorcycle accidents increased in urban centers in the Cordillera, like Baguio. Most of the fatalities were riders who were not wearing helmets.

Supt. John Allan Logan, chief of the traffic management division of the Baguio police, reported an increase in road accidents involving motorcycles from 74 cases in 2011 to 202 as of the first week of December.

He said 70 percent of these incidents involved drunk riders.

Logan said many of the victims were hurt because they used helmets that do not pass the new standards set by Republic Act No. 10054 (Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009).

The Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and the DOTC are finalizing rules for full-face motorcycle helmets that cover a rider’s entire head, and a system for registering each unit for monitoring in time for the law’s enforcement next year.

Helmets also need to be certified by the DTI to show these items are up to prescribed standards.

But the police have also supported ordinances that prohibit the use of helmets which hide a rider’s identity to deter murders committed by motorcycle riders in the provinces, said Chief Supt. Benjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director.

Minutes of the Oct. 25 RLECC meeting quoted Magalong as saying: “There are [towns] which have ordinances requiring riders not to wear helmets and the Cordillera police are fully supportive of these ordinances because of [motorcycle-riding gunmen in] Bangued and other [towns] of Abra.”

He did not cite the specific ordinances.

Samuel Gallardo, DTI Cordillera legal officer, said the agency may advise these towns to amend their ordinances that would require motorcycle riders to wear full-face helmets with clear visors to abide by the law without disrupting their security regulations.

During the October meeting, Army Col. Eliseo Posadas, commander of the 503rd Infantry Brigade in Abra, urged the agencies to require helmets to bear the registration number of their vehicles and for the helmets to be listed by the Land Transportation Office.

Posadas made the proposal after being told that the helmets could be used by any rider because the law does not prescribe the use of one helmet for every registered motorcycle. Vincent Cabreza, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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Tags: Crime , motorcycles , News , Regions , traffic safety

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