By Arjay L. Balinbin

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Saturday announced that he will suspend the implementation of a new law that requires the placement of bigger and color-coded number plates on both the front and the back sides of motorcycles.

“I will try to convince the [Land Transportation Office] LTO to maybe hang onto it. I-suspend ko lang muna (I will suspend it). Kasi (Because) it is not good,” Mr. Duterte said.

The President made this announcement at the 25th Convention of the National Federation of the Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines (NFMCP) in Iloilo City last Saturday, April 6.

He said placing number plates on the front side of motorcycles would be “dangerous” because of their “sharp edges.”

“Anything that is sharp, has sharp edges, is not good,” he said.

He suggested that the size of the back number plates of motorcycles can be increased by only a fourth of its current size. “Lakihan na lang ninyo ang plate number sa likod by one-fourth para makita talaga yung number. Ang importante talaga yung sa likod,” he said. (Just increase the back number plates by one-fourth to make the numbers more visible. The back plates are more important.)

The President was also concerned about the prescribed fine of P50,000 up to P100,000, noting that these amounts are “too high.”

“Maybe as compromise, I’m willing [to lower it to] P10,000 to P15,000,” he said.

Mr. Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11235, or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, on March 8.

The law is intended to prevent and penalize the use of motorcycles in the commission of crimes by requiring bigger, readable and color-coded number plates and identification marks.

Under the law, the LTO is tasked to issue a readable number plate for every motorcycle.

“The LTO shall, in the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of this Act, determine the font style and size of the bigger, readable and color-coded number plates: Provided, That the contents of the number plates shall be readable from the front, the back, and the side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least fifteen meters from the motorcycle,” reads the law.

The new law also states that color coding would serve as an identifying mark per region.

“The utilization of voluntary and paid labor from prisoners shall be among the requirements to bid for the procurement of the number plates under this Act,” it says further.

For his part, Senator Richard J. Gordon, the principal author and sponsor of the law, said in a statement on Sunday that he would explain to Mr. Duterte that the intention of the law is “to give justice to the victims of riding-in-tandem shooters who could no longer seek justice themselves because ‘dead men tell no tales.’”

“They can no longer seek justice for themselves. How do we do justice to this people? You limit the way people can get away with riding without motor plates and riding with stolen motorcycles,” he said.