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ANTIMOTORCYCLE-RIDING SUSPECTS PATROL

Pasig gov’t, police tap bikers to combat crime

MANILA, Philippines — Pasig City officials are experimenting with a novel approach to an issue that has long bedeviled Metro Manila police — the prevalence of crimes perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects (MRS).

In a memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed on Sunday, the heads of 30 motorcycle clubs with a combined 1,000 members formed the Pasig City Anti-MRS Patrol, which would essentially act as extra pairs of eyes and ears for the local government and city police force.

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The initiative was an attempt to bolster anticriminality efforts through the engagement of civilian riders, who had long grumbled about feeling demonized at times by aggressive measures taken by the Philippine National Police and lawmakers to curb crime.

These measures included intensified checkpoint operations and the controversial Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, or “Doble Plaka” law, which sparked a series of wide-scale protests after motorcycle clubs said it discriminated against law-abiding riders and compromised their safety.

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But on Sunday, riders stood side-by-side with Police Col. Rizalito Gapas, the city police chief, and Mayor Vico Sotto as they signed the covenant.

The Pasig City Anti-MRS Patrol would “counter the threat posed by motorcycle-riding suspects [and] other forms of criminal activities” and could be tapped as a “tactical response force in any emergency situation,” according to the MOA.

Gapas added that apart from reporting crime, the volunteer riders would act as advocates for road safety and obedience to traffic laws and ordinances.

Information campaigns

According to the MOA, the city police will conduct information drives with the civilian patrol to “promote safety, enhance knowledge on traffic regulations and emphasize road discipline,” with the goal of proposing ordinances that would boost peace and order.

Crimes in Metro Manila committed by MRS actually fell by 53 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, but several brazen, high-profile shootings, including two that occurred in broad daylight on Edsa earlier this year, shook the public.

The National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) recorded 50 murders and eight homicides at the hands of MRS in 2018, an 85-percent and 67-percent decrease from 2017, respectively. Only 120 of 400 crimes perpetrated by MRS in 2018 were recorded as solved, however.

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The NCRPO chief, Maj. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar, earlier urged city councils to develop “innovative interventions” in the wake of the Edsa shootings, like requiring license plate numbers to be posted on motorcycle helmets.

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