Riding someone else's motorcycle? Be ready to prove you're not a criminal

Jonathan de Santos - Philstar.com
Riding someone else's motorcycle? Be ready to prove you're not a criminal
In this October 2018 file photo, police inspect motorcycle riders at a checkpoint.
The STAR / Edd Gumban, file

MANILA, Philippines — Those riding motorcycles that are not registered in their name may need to provide proof that they are authorized to do so, the Land Transportation Office said as Republic Act 11235 — also called the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act — comes into force.

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.

Riders had until June 11, or five days after implementation started on the 6th, to comply. 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.

The law will affect motorcyclists using units that may be registered under a relative's name or those who may be using a borrowed unit who may, at the very least be delayed, at police checkpoints.

Asked about the possibility of riders being detained at checkpoints, Transportation Assistant Secretary Edgar Galvante, head of the LTO, said "showing the authority from the owner that [the rider] has been authorized to use the motorcycle should be used as justification."

He said that there is no official format yet for this authorization and the LTO does not have a prescribed set of documents that riders can show police officers manning checkpoints.

"It can be a certification stating that the bearer is authorized by the owner to use the motorcycle, then include the description of the motorcycle," he said.

There is no equivalent requirement for motorists driving cars that are not registered under their name. There are also no checkpoints — the Philippine National Police has an 'Oplan Sita' for motorcyclists — specifically aimed at car drivers.

The law also requires motorycles to display their license plate number on the front of the unit, a provision that riders protested as being potentially unsafe. Implementation of this provision has been put on hold since the LTO cannot provide the license plates and decals required yet.

Motorcycle riders' groups — including the Motorcycle Rights Organization, one of the largest motorcyclists' rights advocacy groups in the Philippines — plan to question the legality of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act in court.

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