Thousands may be sidelined by implementation of Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act
Some 10,000 riders joined what was dubbed a “unity ride” to protest Republic Act 11235 or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act along EDSA in March 2019.
The STAR/Michael Varcas

Thousands may be sidelined by implementation of Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act

(Philstar.com) - May 31, 2020 - 5:28pm

MANILA, Philippines — Hundreds, if not thousands, of motorcycle riders may have to stay off the road when Republic Act 11235 — a law said to have been passed to curb the use of motorcycles in crimes — comes into force in June.

The controversial Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, which was met with protests and that President Rodrigo Duterte ordered suspended in April 2019, requires a motorcycle owner — defined in the law as both the registered owner and "any person who has actual control and possession of motorcycle" — to have the registration transferred to their name within five days of acquisition.

Under the Land Transportation and Traffic Code, the owner of a motor vehicle is "the actual legal owner of a motor vehicle, in whose name such vehicle is duly registered with the Land Transportation Commission."

Under the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, failure to transfer ownership is penalized by up to six years in prison or a fine of P20,000-P50,000, or both.

Speaking to "Ride Radio" on One PH, Motorist Motorcycle Rights Organization Chairperson Jobert Bolanos said that that provision of the law would be difficult to comply with within the five-day grace period from June 6, when the law takes effect.

He said that aside from Land Transportation Office transactions being limited because of the community quarantine, the process of transferring ownership had been tedious even before the quarantine.

"If after five days from June 6 (you still haven't been able to transfer ownership), we suggest not using your motorcycle," he said.

Under the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, "a motorcycle used in the commission of a crime or offense shall be impounded by the PNP as evidence in custodia legis in a secured impounding center provided by the LGU until the termination of the case."

"Such motorcycle shall then be forfeited in favor of the government, unless the court finds that the defendant is not guilty of the offense charged or such motorcycle belongs to an innocent third party."

It is yet unclear if failure to transfer ownership is considered an offense that merits impounding.

MRO, along with other motorcycle rights advocates, plans to question RA 11235 in court. 

Transfer of ownership issues

Motorcycles have become an inexpensive mode of transportation for Filipinos and many are bought and sold on a so-called "open Deed of Sale" basis, where registration is not officially transferred.

Comments on online motorcycle communities say that the cost as well as slow process of transferring ownership have been barriers in getting the process done.

Bolanos said his group supports motorcycle registration but also said delays in the process should be considered in the implementation of RA 11235.

On the same "Ride Radio" episode, LTO Executive Director Romeo Vera Cruz confirmed that motorcycle riders have five days from the sale of the motorcycle to transfer registration.

'Doble Plaka' law

Vera Cruz assured motoryclists, however, that another controversial provision of the law that requires the installation of license plates or decals on the front of motorcycles will not be enforced for now "because the plates and decals are not yet available."

He stressed that motorcyclists "will not be flagged down just because you have no front decal."

Under the transitory provisions of the law's Implementing Rules and Regulations, the renewal of registration of motorcycles "shall carry with it the application for such number plates."

Those who had their registration renewed before the release of the IRR "shall be deemed to have applied for issuance of number plates in conformity with RA 11235."

The 'Doble Plaka' law was met with protests last year, with riders saying the law was discriminatory because it assumes motorcyclists are criminals. They also said the front plates may pose dangers to riders.

In response to the protests, President Rodrigo Duterte said he would suspend implementation of the law.

"I will try to convince the LTO to maybe hang onto it, i-suspend ko lang muna, kasi it is not good. It is dangerous to place another gadget, lalo na may kanto ang plate number eh," Duterte was quoted in a speech at the 25th annual convention of the National Federation of the Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines in Iloilo City in April 2019. — Jonathan de Santos

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