When will Christine Silawan get justice?
SHOOTING STRAIGHT - Bobit S. Avila (The Philippine Star) - March 26, 2019 - 12:00am

I saw footages in the media that thousands of motorcycle riders last Sunday conducted a nationwide simultaneous protests against the implementation of the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act (Republic Act 11235), or what they call the “doble plaka” law. The “doble plaka” law requires bigger and color-coded license plates both at the front and back of motorcycles, because government officials are saying that the current plate numbers are too small, especially on motorcycles used in crimes. But it is a fact that assassins do not use the real plate numbers of their motorcycles so as not to be identified by the police.

Actually, I rode my bike to the Transcentral Highway last Sunday and met some big biker friends but no one was talking to me about this event, which according to media reports was nationwide. Of course, I do not doubt that around 10,000 riders joined the protest dubbed “Unity Ride” in Metro Manila. After all, there are now thousands upon thousands of motorcycle riders who would be affected by the new huge plate numbers.

The bike protest started in Pasay, reached Quezon City and ended at the People Power Monument on EDSA. The large gathering, however, created a traffic buildup at the northbound lane from Ortigas to Santolan. Don’t these people realize that the People Power Monument has already lost its “EDSA Magic?” They should have gone straight to Quirino Grandstand where we held the formal opening of the rehabilitation of Manila Bay, which has now gone viral.

Meanwhile as I suggested, on the first week of April the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs in the Philippines (NFMCP) will hold its 25th anniversary in Iloilo City, and this issue should be the only topic of concern for the motorcycle clubs all over the country. Let me remind you that it is already election season and there is no question that politicians are going to make promises to motorcyclists if they get elected into office.

The Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act requires motorcycle riders to have bigger license plates that are readable at the front, back and side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least 15 meters. This is to easily identify the registration of the motorcycle in a bid to curb crimes.

The Land Transportation Office (LTO) has also ordered a color scheme of the readable plate numbers for every region to determine where it was from. The law was a consolidation of Senate Bill 1397 and House Bill 8419, which were passed on Dec. 13, 2018 and Jan. 14, 2019, respectively.

Basically, most motorcycle riders do not care if the LTO doubles the size of the current plate number and uses color keys to identify the region where these motorcycles come from. What they are against are plate numbers that are just too large and more importantly the front plate numbers because there really is no place to put them on the bike. Let’s hope that the Duterte administration listens to the bikers.

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The Cebuano public was taken into a roller coaster ride by the Lapu-Lapu police and the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) when on March 10, 16-year-old Christine Silawan was found dead in Barangay Bangkal, Lapu-Lapu the next day with half her face gone, her organs in the neck area removed, and her body bearing 30 stab wounds. This caused an outrage that became viral in social media to a point that even Pres. Rodrigo Duterte ordered the arrest of the killers. A million peso bounty was offered by Lapu-Lapu City and an American living in Ormoc City.

Then a week later a certain Jonas Bueno was arrested in Matina Crossing in Davao City who had an arrest warrant from the killing of a farmer in Danao City, Cebu whose face was also disfigured. Thus he became a principal suspect in the killing of Christine Silawan. But Jonas Bueno who belonged to a cult, admitted to killing the farmer, but not Christine Silawan.

Then a few days later a former boyfriend of Christine, a 17-year-old boy who was seen in the CCTV coverage with her near where her body was found was arrested. This time, the Silawan family believed that the authorities got the right suspect, which was why Christine’s parents set the interment last Saturday in keeping with their promise to bury her once her assailant was behind bars.

Then on the very day of her burial, the Lapu-Lapu City Prosecutor’s Office ordered the release of the 17-year-old suspect because the arrest made by the NBI was invalid. The ex-boyfriend’s lawyer argued that the arrest was invalid since the suspect was taken into custody without a warrant. The NBI used that footage to effect the arrest of the boy. Could it be that the NBI and the Lapu-Lapu City police got into a  race as to who would arrest the 17-year-old boy to collect the bounty for the capture of the killers?

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Email: vsbobita@gmail.com

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