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Appeals court: Local ordinance banning male back riders unconstitutional

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Appeals court: Local ordinance banning male back riders unconstitutional
Central to the case is the Mandaluyong ordinance that declared male back riders on motorcycles as prohibited.
STAR / File

MANILA, Philippines — The Court of Appeals has declared as unconstitutional Mandaluyong City ordinances that prohibited male back riders on motorcycles for violating the rule on equal protection.

The Fifth Division of the CA granted the appeal of Dino de Leon, who was apprehended and sued when he was a back rider of a motorcycle from transportation hailing application Angkas in March 2019.

“Mandaluyong City Ordinance Nos. 550, S-2014, S-2015 and 694, S-2018, are hereby declared unconstitutional, and all persons or entities acting on its behalf or under its authority, are prohibited from enforcing and implementing Mandaluyong City Ordinance No. 550, S-2014, S-2015 and 694, S-2018,” the decision penned by Associate Justice Raymond Reynold Lauigan, with concurrences from Associate Justices Ramon Bato Jr. and Pablito Perez, read.

The said ordinances prohibited male back riders who are not relatives of the driver are prohibited. It said that motorcycle riding-in-tandem where the back rider is female, spouse or relative, and child are allowed.

“The records further disclose the fact that most of these motorcycle riding criminals are males and they ride in tandem using a single motorcycle, in a conspiracy with another motorcycle riding malefactor/s,” the ordinance read.

Equal protection

De Leon elevated the dismissal of his petition to the Court of Appeals, where he said the Mandaluyong trial court acted contrary to law and jurisprudence when it held that the amended ordinance was a valid exercise of police power, and in applying the presumption of regularity to uphold the validity of the amended ordinance in spite of the equal protection challenge.

The City of Mandaluyong argued that De Leon’s appeal is now moot and academic due to the suspension of the effectivity of the assailed ordinance when transportation was limited in the pandemic.

The CA granted De Leon’s petition.

It did not agree with the Mandaluyong City’s argument that the petition is moot and academic, as it pointed out that the suspension was merely temporary.

The appeals court also said that the ordinance is “imposing an encompassing prohibition against male back riders is an oppressive measure that goes beyond what is reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose that respondent-appellee City of Mandaluyong aspires which is to suppress lawlessness, disorder and violence.”

The CA held the ordinances are unconstitutional because they violate the Rule on Equal Protection. The appeals court pointed out that male back riders and motorcycles are more susceptible to crimes are mere generalization and self-serving.

The right to equal protection requires that public bodies and institutions treat all persons or things in a similar manner. If however a grouping is characterized by a substantial distinction that makes differences, one class may be treated differently, but this classification must not be arbitrary.

The ordinances are “discriminatory both as to gender and as to the use of motorcycles as a mode of transportation, and depended on broad generalizations,” the CA said.

“It is arbitrary as it does not rest on substantial distinctions bearing a just and fair relation to the purpose of the Ordinance. This discrimination based on gender violates equal protection as it is not substantially related to important government objectives. Thus, the discrimination is invalid, as in the present case,” the ruling read.

COURT OF APPEALS MANDALUYONG CITY RIDING IN TANDEM
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