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Motorcycles now need bigger number plates

The days of criminals riding tandem may soon be over.

President Duterte signed on March 8, Republic Act No. 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, which mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to issue bigger and color-coded number plates for motorcycles.

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The law covers two or three-wheeled motor vehicles, including scooters, mopeds and motorcycles with such appendages as sidecars, as well as tricycles or trikes, including government-owned vehicles.

A motorcycle rights group however described the newly passed law as an act of “undue profiling” that infringes on their rights and said that they were ready to challenge the law’s provisions anew during the drafting of its implementing rules and regulations.

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Bigger, more readable

If that fails, said Jobert Bolanos, chair of the Motorcycle Rights Organization, they will fight it out before the Supreme Court.

“There are so many implications in this law that unfairly target innocent motorcycle riders,” Bolanos said. “This law seems more about making money [off riders], but it will not solve the problem.”

According to the law, the font style on the plates to be decided by the LTO, should be bigger and readable from the front, side and back of the motorcycle from a distance of 15 meters from the vehicle.

The plates, which are of suitable and durable material, should be displayed on both the front and back sides of the motorcycle.

The law also requires the LTO to have a registry of motorcycles in a database for easy retrieval when needed for investigations and law enforcement.

“Motorcycle owners with number plates not in conformity with the provisions of this act, shall renew their registration and apply for the required readable number plate not later than June 30 this year,” according to the law.

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For its part, the LTO has until Dec. 31 this year to produce, release and issue the number plates.

According to the law, owners of motorcycles should register their vehicle to the LTO within five days from acquisition, and report any sale of disposition of the vehicle.

Failure to do so in both cases will make them liable to imprisonment or a fine of less than P20,000, but not more than P50,000.

Maximum penalty

“If a motorcycle that is not yet registered with the LTO is used in connection with an offense punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws, the maximum penalty of relevant offenses shall be imposed on the offenders,” according to the law.

The law also prohibits people from driving motorcycles without a number plate, preferably the new one.

Violators face imprisonment or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000.

Authorities can stop people who are driving their motorcycles without number plates and seize their vehicle, which will then be surrendered to the Philippine National Police.

The owner can redeem the seized vehicle upon showing proof of ownership, paying the costs of seizure, and upon compliance with the required readable number plate.

The law was meant to prevent motorcycle riders involved in crimes from getting away too easily.

Many drug-related deaths under Duterte’s war on illegal drugs were carried out by vigilantes riding tandem on bikes.

But motorcycle advocates have long resisted the legislation, saying the risks far outweigh the benefits. They also bristle at the implication that drive-by shootings were done mostly by riders.

Wind resistance

Bolanos compared the bigger number plates to “putting a knife in front of motorcycles.”

“A [number plate that] size creates [stronger] wind resistance,” he said. “When there is [stronger] resistance, there’s bound to be [an accident] … If that [number plate] gets torn off the front [of the bike], it could hurt the rider or pedestrians, or even kill someone.”

Bolanos estimates that the new number plates could set back riders by P400, not including the costs of installing a bracket in front of the bikes.

“Imagine, P400 multiplied 5 million times—that’s the number of motorcycles in the country. That’s how much money [the] government will be able to make,” he added.

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TAGS: duterte, LTO, motorcycle plates, Motorcycle Rights Organization
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