Senate Passes Motorcycle Crime Prevention Bill of 2017

On Monday, July 25, the Senate passed on third and final reading a bill that requires motorcycles and scooters to use bigger license plates. Senate Bill No. 1397, also known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017, hopes to curb criminality and 'riding-in-tandem' instances through the easier identification of the license plates. The bill, which was authored by Sen. Richard Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, received 21 affirmative votes, zero negative votes, and zero abstention. "By increasing the size and visibility of the motorcycle plates to be able to read the plate numbers from a distance, witnesses and law enforcement agencies are aided in the identification of motorcycle riders who are involved in accidents or criminal activities," Gordon said about the bill's passing. "Motorcycles have become crime machines. With their small plate numbers, criminals perpetrating crimes while on board motorcycles easily flee from the scene of the crime and usually there are no witnesses who can read or identify plate numbers so that the authorities can go after the criminals."

Responsibility falls on LTO

The bill mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to supply bigger license plates with reflective surfaces to every motorcycle and scooter in the country. Under the bill, the plate numbers should be installed both in the front and rear parts of the motorcycle. The text and numbers on the plates should also be visible and readable from a distance of between 12 to 15 meters. The LTO must also devise an alphanumeric system and color scheme for every region to make it easier to identify where a motorcycle is registered.

The need for the bill

Senator Dick Gordon Gordon said that according to 2011 data, the Philippine National Police recorded 1,069 crimes that involved 'riding-in-tandem' incidences, with 810 murder victims. The numbers were significantly higher than the previous year, which recorded 824 motorcycle crime incidents and 604 killed victims. The numbers only grew with each succeeding year. In Metro Manila alone, motorcycle crimes rose to more than 3,000 in 2013, then 6,219 in 2014, before experiencing a gradual drop in 2015, with 6,006 incidents. "This is an example of the impunity upon which motorcycles have been utilized in killing," Gordon said.

Punishment for motorcycle crimes

Gordon explained that the bill does not only affect motorcycle riders, but their owners, backriders (or pillion riders), and passengers as well, as long as it can be proven that they participated in the crime or that it has been used in the commission of a crime. "If death or serious physical injuries results from the unlawful use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime, the penalty of life imprisonment shall be imposed," Gordon said in closing. Involved parties shall be punished either by imprisonment of a term of 12 years and one day up to 20 years, as stated in the revised penal code. A lesser punishment of prision correcional (from four months and one day up to two years and four months) to prision mayor (from six years and one day up to 12 years) will be meted in the case of a less grievous crime. Likewise, the motorcycle owner will be held liable if he or she fails to report the theft of the vehicle

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