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Rough Cuts: The Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act

Indeed some people are quick to take advantage over others if they find opportunity. And sadly, most of these people are those with criminal intentions against others. Even laws that are crafted with the specific purpose of protecting every citizen become better opportunity for criminals to hide their identity when committing heinous crimes like assassinations and robbery hold-ups.We are referring to the law that mandates every motorcycle rider including back-riders to wear protective helmets every time they take the motorbike for a trip. Primordial in the passing of the law is safety of the rider and whoever is with them on board the motorbike.

Indeed a good number of lives have been saved by the law as those who complied with it and met road accidents enjoyed the mitigation of the impact because they had their heads protected.

Unfortunately however, the criminals are well-aware of the proliferation of motorbikes all over the country including the most urban of city centers. Thus, with the mandatory use of helmets during travel the criminals now find wearing a helmet  as the most convenient way of concealing their identities, and the fastest way to escape from responding law enforcement agents.

Now comes this newly minted law mandating the installation of two large plate numbers behind and in front of motorcycles. The passage of the law by Congress instigated a massive protest rally by motorbike owners/riders. The protesters are claiming they were not consulted by the lawmakers when the bill was still being deliberated in Congress. The motorbike riders and owners insist that the installation of big metal plates especially on the front is extremely dangerous to the life of the rider.

The possibility, according to the protesting drivers, is that the big metal plate installed at the front portion may not withstand the wind pressure when travelling at high speed. Thus, the plate may be detached and flown right onto the rider. And it could hit the motor biker on the face, on the body or elsewhere. The impact, according to the protesting riders, could result to injurious cuts and possibly even the motor biker’s death.

On the other hand, the proponents of the law premised their crafting of the legislation on the fact that these days, most crimes against persons are perpetrated by motorcycle-riding gunmen. And there is no way they could be identified despite presence of close circuit television cameras in the vicinity of crime scene. And the police admit that even if the criminals are caught on CCTV during their commission of the crime, they could not be identified because their faces are fully covered by the helmet. In fact at times, in addition to the helmet, the perpetrators even double secure their identities by wearing bonnet or mask.

So, the lawmakers might have thought, the other way to possibly catch the criminals using the motorbike as their carrier, is by expanding the size of the plate where the numbers are readable by potential witnesses at a distance of 15 meters away from the crime scene. By clearly getting the exact plate numbers ownership of the bike and the possible criminal or criminals can easily be established. Or, the perpetrators will be known to have stolen the motorcycle they use in the crime.

This provision of the law got the goat out of the motorbike owners and/or riders. They feel that they are being categorized as people with criminal minds and are ready to commit crimes because they have the means of concealing their identities, and escaping from the law enforcers.

Very clearly we can see the point of the motorbike riders. We agree that the law is “oppressive”  in that its passage did not have inputs from the main stakeholder groups.  It is oppressive because the acquisition of the new plates (two pieces) and the installation on the unit will incur additional expenses.

Then there is the likelihood that the motorbike owners and drivers will be paying the cost of plates procurement long before these are available. What with the huge backlog of plates for motor vehicles acquired and registered as early as 2011!

And yes, with the plates paid much ahead of its release, the opportunity for corruption by some dark-souled officials at the Land Transportation Office (LTO) using the services of “fixers” would be wide open.

Indeed, if the intention of the now controversial Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act (RA 11235) is to protect the people from the motorbike-riding gunmen and the motorcycle owners see it labeling them as criminals, we would not be surprised if one day soon the law mandating the wearing of helmet is abolished. Another law banning the use by motor bikers of bonnet or hat of whatever form and size may also be passed to ensure that identities of gunmen can immediately be established.

That might just be the most workable compromise to lessen, if not stop, the occurrence of crimes perpetrated by motorcycle-riding criminals.

Let the individual rider take care of his or her own safety while on the road. The government cannot afford to let the motorbike riding gunmen continue their trade as people debate without let up on the effectiveness of existing anti-criminality laws.

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