Court upholds HPG-Negros Oriental enforcement of helmet law
Juancho R. Gallarde (The Freeman) - September 23, 2018 - 12:00am

DUMAGUETE CITY — Judge Neciforo Enot, of the Regional Trial Court-branch 44 in Dumaguete City, ruled that the implementation of Republic Act 10054 or the helmet law by the Highway Patrol Group (HPG) in Negros Oriental is legal and enforceable.

 

The petitioners against the enforcement have failed “to clearly and convincingly prove its unconstitutionality,” and the respondents (HPG) “have no choice but to implement it as a matter of course.”

The decision also said the court “is not oblivious of the fact that prominent personalities in the city are resorting to extrajudicial or political remedies in 2012 to delay or suspend the implementation of RA 10054.” 

The court further noted that these “extraneous remedies constitute tacit recognition of the fact that the matters interposed by the petitioners are for Congress to consider and not for the RTC.”

After receiving the copy of the decision last September 13, the HPG immediately started to implement RA 10054 “mandating all motorcycle riders to wear standard protective motorcycle helmets while driving …”

This became the basis of Senior Inspector Silvestre Cenia Jr., provincial director of the HPG-Negros Oriental, in carrying out the crackdown and apprehension of motorists without helmets, including those of four-wheeled vehicles without seatbelts, under Oplan Sita, as earlier directed by higher headquarters.

Cenia explained there is no reason for the HPG not to enforce the national law on wearing of helmets, after the RTC dismissed the petitioners’ special civil action for declaratory relief with prayer for a preliminary prohibitory injunction filed on July 19, 2012.

Initial enforcement of Oplan Sita had resulted in impounding of motorcycles, in addition to other violations, such as absence of registration papers, no official receipts and certificates of registration of the unit, and driving without license, Cenia told The Freeman.

Both the HPG and the Land Transportation Office were summoned to shed light on the Oplan Sita campaign during the City Council’s regular session last September 19.

At the time the petition was filed in court, then vice-mayor Alan Gel Cordova — a co-petitioner and lead counsel — admitted himself that the signature drive asking Congress to repeal of amend RA 10054 had to be suspended in order not to pre-empt the action of court over the case.

Then mayor Manuel Sagarbarria also led a separate signature campaign, with the help of barangay officials, at the time aimed at the same purpose undertaken by Cordova and the rest of the petitioners.

Councilor Michael Bandal recently said he understood the predicament of the HPG and the LTO, who are only following the orders of the higher ups to enforce the national law on helmets. As a lawyer and a law-abiding citizen “we are bound to follow the law,” he said.

But as an ordinary citizen, Bandal said the strict implementation of  RA 10054 is “medyo impractical” due to narrow roads and short travelling distances within the city, especially that the backrider is also mandated by law to wear the same standard helmet.

Meanwhile, Cenia warned motorists that his office does not allow fixers in resolving apprehensions. Motorists should not shell out money to anybody, when temporary operator’s permits or citation tickets are issued, except to the LTO only. “Magbayad na sa multa, (otherwise) mabiktima pa gyud og fixer,” he added.

HIGHWAY PATROL GROUP
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