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        No witnesses? OSG lawyers to testify in ‘doble plaka’ case

        They’re now in the final stretch of court proceedings
        by Aris Ilagan Sep 22, 2020
        PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

        Judge Luisito Cortez of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 84 has scheduled on Thursday, September 24, the continuation of the hearing on the petition filed by a group of riders seeking the nullification of Republic Act No. 11235, otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act.

        This time, the lawyers from the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) representing Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Secretary Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and Edgar Galvante of the Land Transportation Office (LTO), are scheduled to testify before the court to authenticate the documents they have gathered to disprove the claims of the petitioners from Justitia Lex Machina (JLM).

        JLM is a non-stock, non-profit organization composed of around 40 practicing lawyers who are also passionate about motorbikes. In filing the petition for declaratory relief with prayer for the issuance of preliminary injunction, the JLM considers RA 11235—more popularly known as the ‘doble plaka’ law—unconstitutional and unfair for the estimated 18 million motorcycle owners in the country.

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        In particular, the group is questioning the constitutionality and the fairness of hefty fines and jail terms awaiting the violators of RA 11235. In previous court sessions, JLM presented as a witness a rider of motorcycle-taxi company Angkas, who expressed fear of losing her job in the event that she is apprehended if her bike’s license plates are inadvertently damaged while she’s at work.

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        Attorney Rolly Abing, legal counsel of JLM, says based that on their knowledge, there is no other witness for the hearing on Thursday but the OSG lawyers themselves to authenticate the documents they obtained from the Senate and the Philippine National Police–Highway Patrol Group (PNP-HPG) in connection with the passage of the controversial law and the data on motorcycle-related crimes in the country, respectively.

        Attorney Algie Kwillon Mariacos from the OSG team has already submitted his direct testimony to the court, claiming that the documents submitted by his team obtained from the Senate Journal and the PNP-HPG were duly certified by these two issuing parties.

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        After Judge Cortez junked the petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by the group in August 12, the JLM is now asking the court to nullify RA 11235—their main objective in this legal move. Legal luminaries explained that Cortez’s decision to junk the TRO petition is “just a logical thing to do by the court since the LTO had already suspended the implementation of the ‘plate provisions’ in the ‘doble plaka’ law due to the unavailability of the number plates prescribed under the implementing rules and regulations issued by the licensing agency in May 2020.”

        The new motorcycle rear plates that the LTO started distributing in August 27 does not fall under RA 11235 since these were part of the huge bulk of number plates confiscated by customs authorities a few years back for delinquent tax duties. This also explains why the new plates being distributed by the LTO to the motorcycle dealerships are not yet color-coded as prescribed by RA 11235.

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        Well, it has been more than a year since JLM filed the petition in August 2019, and we are hoping that the court will issue a fair and just ruling on the petition in the coming weeks.

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        PHOTO: Aris Ilagan

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