Many of us know that President Rodrigo Duterte is a true rider at heart. Before COVID-19 wrought havoc on the country, we saw the President go back to riding—as supposed preparation for the National Motorcycle Convention (NMC) originally scheduled to take place in Davao City last April 2020.
A known lover of cruiser bikes, President Duterte never missed this grand, annual riders gathering since he was elected to the presidency back in May 2016.
The riding community will never forget the President’s historic announcement during the NMC held in Iloilo City in April last year, when he opposed the implementation of the Republic Act 11235, otherwise known as the “Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act.” After signing it into law, he took a 180-degree turn after realizing this controversial measure is discriminatory and unfair to his fellow riders.
The riders consider the battle on this issue already half won, with a compromise settlement between the riders and the government agencies involved agreeing on the use of number stickers in front instead of metal plates. Now that the issue on hefty penalties for lost or damaged plates and failure to report the purchase of a motorbike to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) has yet to be settled, the ball is now in the hands of Congress to amend RA 11235. We thank you, Mr. President, for coming to the rescue.
As you are about to deliver your fifth State of the Nation Address today, July 27, 2020, we are again asking for your help on more pressing issues affecting the lives of some 18 million riders out there. Please read on, Mr. President:
- Backriding shields. The National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 has approved only two prototypes of the rider’s shield, but only the Angkas-designed version is likely the most preferred. Despite this, there is strong opposition from the different sectors, including experts from different fields, in its supposed effectiveness in preventing the virus infection. There were also serious doubts raised on its safety aspects. This issue can be likened to the proverbial Sword of Damocles hanging over the heads of pillion riders.
- Pillion riding. Riders do not see the rationale in preventing other family members from sharing a motorcycle ride when the NTF has given the go-signal for couples, live-in partners, and even same-sex partners. Go and see for yourself, Mr. President, the long queues on the light railway systems and bus terminals. Imagine these riders taking one passenger each to work and vice versa. Please put an end to their misery.
- Motorcycle taxis. The shortage of public transportation has not been addressed even though the government has allowed some transportation sectors to resume operations. The ride-hailing motorcycle companies are adopting strict health protocols when they shifted to delivery service, so what’s the difference if they take passengers?
- Vehicle emissions test. Being taxpayers, riders do not deserve to suffer waiting for their turn at vehicle emission testing centers. The LTO has been giving conflicting signals if emission testing will continue or not, as these facilities continue to receive applicants who just want to beat the deadline and avoid paying penalties for delayed renewal of registration.
- Moto tourism. Motorcycling is proven to be one of the best ways to relieve oneself of stress. We know President Duterte will agree to this. During weekends, we see throngs of riders heading to tourist destinations even just for breakfast. These activities spur economic development in the countryside. We ask Your Excellency to support this endeavor, and at the same time, consistently remind the riders to observe physical distancing and exercise good health habits.
It takes a rider to understand a rider’s predicament. We can only hope that you won’t let us down, Mr. President. Ride safe!