Senate approves bill for bigger, color-coded motorcycle plates

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THE SENATE passed on third and final reading yesterday a bill that would require motorcycles and scooters to have license plates that are bigger and color-coded by region for easier identification.

In a statement, the Senate said Senate Bill No. 1397, the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017, is intended to curb the number of shootings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding criminals.

The measure mandates the Land Transportation Office (LTO) to issue bigger — readable from a distance of between 12 and 15 meters — and reflectorized license plates, which must be placed in both the front and rear sides of the vehicle.

“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,” Senator Richard J. Gordon, chair of the Senate committee on justice and human rights, and one of the bill’s authors, said in a statement.

The LTO is also mandated to assign a color scheme for every region to easily identify the place of registration.

“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,” Mr. Gordon said.

Driving without a plate number is prohibited and shall be punishable with four months and one day up to two years and four months of imprisonment or a fine of not less than P50,000 but not more than P100,000, or both.

The LTO is also mandated to provide the police with a list of all registered motorcycles and scooters, including the name of the registered owner with driver’s license number as well as address and contact details, vehicle identification number, plate number, body color, brand and manufacturer.

If a motorcycle was used in the commission of a crime, the owner, driver, and passenger who participated in the crime shall be punished either by imprisonment of a term of 12 years and one day up to 20 years as provided under the revised penal code.

The owner of the motorcycle would be liable if he or she fails to report the theft of his vehicle or that it has been used in the commission of a crime.

Mr. Gordon said police data show there were 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. In Metro Manila, up to 6,219 crime incidents involving motorcycle-riding criminals were recorded in 2014 and 6,006 in 2015.

“This is an example of the impunity upon which motorcycles have been utilized in killing,” Mr. Gordon said.