By Genalyn Kabiling
Motorcycles will be required to put bigger license plates for easy identification in a bid to curb crimes based on a new law signed by President Duterte.
Republic Act No. 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, also imposes jail terms and fines on the use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime.
“It is hereby declared the policy of the State to secure and safeguard its citizenry from crimes committed with the use of motorcycles through bigger, readable and color-coded number plates and identification marks,” the law read.
Under the law, the Land Transportation Office is mandated to issue “bigger, readable and color-coded number plates” that will be displayed on the front and back sides of the motorcycle. The number plates must be readable from the front, back and side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least 15 meters.
LTO must also devise a color scheme of the plate numbers for every region for quick and easy identification.
“The readable number plates must be displaced in both the front and back sides of a motorcycle and shall be made of suitable and durable material as determined by the LTO,” the law read.
RA 11235 directed the LTO to keep a registry of motorcycles in a database to facilitate information retrieval for official investigation and law enforcement purposes.
The law also prohibits driving without a number plate or a readable number plate. Violators would be punished by prision correccional (six months to six years in prison) or a fine ranging from P50,000 to P100,000.
Law enforcers are empowered to seize the motorcycle and surrender it to the Philippine National Police. The owner of the motorcycle can redeem the seized motorcycle from the LTO upon proof of ownership, payment of seizure costs, and compliance with a number plate.
If a motorcycle is used in the commission of a crime constituting a grave felony, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger who participated shall be punished by reclusion temporal (12 years to 20 years) to reclusion perpetua (30 years).
If the crime is less grave felony or light felony, the violators would be punished by prision correccional to prision mayor (six years to 12 years).
In case a seized motorcycle is used in a crime, the maximum penalty of the relevant crime will be imposed.
The penalty of reclusion perpetua will be imposed if death or serious physical injuries result from unlawful use of the motorcycle.
A motorcycle used in a crime will be impounded by the PNP in an impounding area until the termination of the case. It will then be forfeited in favor of the government unless the court finds the defendant not guilty of the offence.
The Department of Interior and Local Government must ensure all local government units would set aside a land for a secured impounding centre under the control of the police.
If a number plate is lost, damaged or stolen, the owner must report it to the LTO and PNP and request a replacement number plate.
Tampering, forging or concealing a motorcycle plate number will be punished by prision mayor or a fine between P50,000 to P100,000 or both. The use of a stolen motorcycle number plate also carries the same punishment.
The new law also prohibits the sale and importation of non-compliant motorcycles.
An initial funding of P150 million has been set aside for the implementation of the motorcycle crime prevention law.
A joint LTO and PNP Operations and Control Center will also be established to facilitate the implementation of the new law. The center, which will be under the supervision of the Department of Information and Communications Technology, must be operational and accessible 24 hours a day and seven days a week.
The law, signed by the President last March 8, takes effect 15 days after publication in the Official Gazette or a newspaper.