The Senate passed on third and final reading a bill that would require motorcycles and scooters to have bigger license plates for easy identification in a bid to prevent motorcycle-riding criminals from easily getting away after committing a crime.
Senate Bill No. 1397 or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017, authored by Senator Dick Gordon, chair of the Senate Committee on Justice and Human Rights, and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, was approved with 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention.
The measure mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to issue bigger and reflectorized license plates to every motorcycle and scooter in the country to take a “bite out of crime committed with the use of motorcycles or scooters.”
“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 stressed.
Under the measure, the LTO is mandated to issue bigger and reflectorized plate numbers which must be placed in both front and rear parts of the motorcycle. The plate numbers should be big enough to be readable from a distance of between 12 to 15 meters.
The LTO is also mandated to devise a color scheme of the plate numbers for every region to easily identify where such motorcycle was registered, together with an alphanumeric system for easier identification and recollection by the general public.
“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,” Gordon said.
Driving without a plate number is prohibited and shall be punishable by 4 months and 1 day up to 2 years and 4 months or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or both.
“Motorcycles driven without a plate number or a readable plate number shall be stopped, seized by law-enforcement officers and surrendered to the LTO,” Gordon said.
The LTO is also mandated to provide to the police authorities a list of all registered motorcycles and scooters including the name of the registered owner, the number of his driver’s license, his address and contact details, vehicle identification number, plate number, body color, brand and manufacturer.
Gordon explained that if a motorcycle was intentionally used in the commission of a crime, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger who participated in the crime shall be punished either by imprisonment of a term of 12 years and 1 day up to 20 years as provided under the revised penal code. Further, the owner of the motorcycle would be liable if he or she fails to report the theft of his vehicle or has been used in the commission of a crime.
A lesser punishment of prision correcional (from 4 months and 1 day up to 2 years and 4 months) to prision mayor (from 6 years and 1 day up to 12 years) will be meted in the case of a less grievous crime.
“If death or serious phyisical injuries results from the unlawful use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime, the penalty of life imprisonment shall be imposed,” Gordon added.
The Philippine National Police, according to Gordon, recorded 1,069 crime incidents involving riding-in-tandems suspects with 810 killed victims in 2011, higher than the 824 recorded shooting incidents in 2010 with 604 killed victims. In Metro Manila alone, Gordon said, the number even ballooned to more than 3,000 in 2013. In 2014, it went up to 6,219 crime incidents and decreased to 6,006 in 2015.
“This is an example of the impunity upon which motorcycles have been utilized in killing,” Gordon said.