Motorcycle riders are denouncing their being “criminalized” for the crimes committed by riding-in-tandem criminals.
To stop this, they sought a meeting with President Rodrigo R. Duterte to bring to him their concerns and grievances. They want to emphasize that the vast majority of two-wheeled riders in the Philippines have no criminal tendencies.
The motorcyclists appealed to the authorities to instead call “riding-in-tandem” criminals as “criminals riding on motorcycles.”
Their main demand was to legalize “motorcycle taxis” to protect riders and their passengers, who rely on the two-wheeled vehicles’ built-in ability to get to their destinations faster than any of the mass transport systems in the country.
Motorcycles are also being used by millions of Filipinos for their livelihood.
On May 24, they voiced their concerns and grievances during a press conference at the Quezon Memorial Circle, Quezon City, as they also announced their unity ride-cum-protest on what they branded as “discriminatory” rules and regulations against them.
Transport Watch joined the event.
One of the speakers at the media briefing was lawyer Ariel Inton, founder of Lawyers for Commuters Safety and Protection (LCSP).
Inton, a former Board member of the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), clarified that motorcycles being two-wheeled are considered private by law and, thus, not allowed to ferry passengers.
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“It is not LTFRB which said it is prohibited; it is the law,” he said.
Inton said any private vehicle cannot be a public conveyance at all times. “This has been a long-standing law,” he added.
However, he supported the riders’ plea for the legalization of motorcycles as public conveyance vehicles that are allowed to transport passengers for a fee.
“But with TNVS (Transport Network Vehicle Service), maybe (motorcycles) would be OK based on this argument,” said Inton.
The former LTFRB official said motorcycle-for-hire are not new with “habal-habal” already on the road earlier than 2008.
He added: “It is about time to regulate motorcycles which are dangerous. Precisely, that is the reason for legalizing, concerns can be corrected one regulate.”
On Sunday, the riders took the streets in a nationwide “Unity Ride for Equality” to protest what they dubbed discriminatory laws and local government ordinances that stifle their freedom.
The Riders of the Philippines (ROTP) and Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) organized the event with the plan to assemble on May 27 at the People Power Monument on While Plains Avenue at the corner of EDSA to Quezon Avenue and proceed to Mendiola Street, Manila.
ROTP said other protest rides were also organized in the Visayas and Mindanao.
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Jober Bolaños of the MRO and ROTP said riders are faced with a dilemma with various rules coming out that prevent them from enjoying their freedom.
“Simply, this is a problem of discrimination. We are not given equality. We are the ones being blamed for the sins of criminals riding in motorcycles,” he said.
Authorities should stop calling criminals using motorcycles as riding in tandem. “It should be criminals riding on motorcycles.”
Bolaños said they do not feel any support from the government, what with the laws already stacked up against them and local governments’ ordinances coming out and those already being implemented nationwide.
“We are being criminalized in Muntinlupa City,” he said.