The Republic Act No. 11235 otherwise known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act. It is an “ACT PREVENTING AND PENALIZING THE USE OF MOTORCYCLES IN THE COMMISSION OF CRIMES BY REQUIRING BIGGER, READABLE AND COLOR-CODED NUMBER PLATES AND IDENTIFICATION MARKS, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES” This Act was a consolidation of Senate Bill No. 1397 and House Bill No. 8419 and was passed on December 13, 2018 by the Senate and January 14, 2019 by the House of Representatives.

The R.A No. 11235 was approved and signed by the President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte on March 8, 2019. The principal author and sponsor of such Act was Senator Richard J. Gordon. He mentioned that this will give a chance for the victims of riding in tandem criminals to get justice in the Philippines. In his sponsorship speech, he explained that the purpose/object of this is that it would ensure that number plates would be readable so that people can easily see and recognize them as this would provide greater chances for crimes related to motorcycles to be solved and the criminals perpetrating the crime arrested by the authorities. 

In a portion of his speech, he said "We have the motorcycle law to ensure that we curb the still rampaging riding-in-tandem assassinations. Araw-araw may binabaril, ang purpose ng batas na ito ay para may pag-asa ang tao na kapag may namaril makikita ang plaka nila. May laban yung nabaril, may laban na yung komunidad whose peace had been disturbed. This is really anti-crime, it will take a big bite out of crime. You know we get used to these killings until it bites us all on our own behind then we will complain." 

Under section 2 of R.A No. 11235 it provides, “Article II, Section 5 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution provides that the maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and the promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy. It is hereby declared the policy of the State to secure and safeguard its citizenry from crimes committed with the use of motorcycles through bigger, readable and color-coded number plates and identification marks.” Followed by the definitions of terms used in this Act. The following are the enumerations given relating to the Crime Prevention Act: 

1. Backrider - refers to any person or persons seated at the back of a motorcycle, or a passenger of a motorcycle

2. Driver - any person driving or controlling a motorcycle

3. Motorcycle - a powered two (2) or three (3)-wheeled motor vehicle, including, but not limited to, scooters, mopeds, and motorcycles with appendages such as sidecars, tricycles, or trikes. This shall include government-owned vehicles

4. Owner - any person who owns or is the registered owner of a motorcycle. Under this Act, it also refers to any person who has actual control and possession of a motorcycle, whether it is registered or not

5. Number plate - the regular motor vehicle license plate issued by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) for a motorcycle, bearing the standard alphanumeric characters in accordance with Republic Act No. 4136, as amended, otherwise known as the “Land Transportation and Traffic Code”

A fine of Php20,000 but not more than Php50,000 is a penalty when the owner of the motorcycle has failed to register to the Land Transportation Office within five days from the acquisition of ownership, or to immediately report its sale or disposition and a motorcycle that is not yet registered with the LTO is used in connection with an offense punishable under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws, the maximum penalty of the relevant offense shall be imposed on the offenders. It required that the number plates of motorcycles be bigger, readable and color-coded. The Land Transportation Office shall be the one to issue the number plates. One must be placed in front and one at the back of the motorcycle. It mentions a number plate that 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. 

As for the driving without a number plate or a readable number plate, as provided in this Act, the driver of the motorcycle is to be punished either by prision correccional as provided in the RPC or a fine of not less than Php50,000 but not more than Php100,000 or both. When the use of a motorcycle in the commission of a crime which involves a grave felony under the Revised Penal Code or in the escape from the scene of the crime at whatever stage of its commission, the owner, driver, backrider or passenger doing something to execute and accomplish the crime, is punishable by reclusion temporal to reclusion perpetua. On the other hand, if a less grave felony or light felony is committed also at whatever stage of commission, is punishable by prision correccional to prision mayor. The penalties thus provided in both cases are provided in the Revised Penal Code.

In section 11, it imposes a fine of Php20,000 but not more than Php50,000 for the failure of the owner of the motorcycle to report the loss or damage of such number plate. It mentions that “If the number plate or readable number plate of a motorcycle is lost, damaged, or stolen, the owner of such motorcycle shall immediately report the same to the LTO and the PNP through the Joint PNP and LTO Operations and Control Center, and request a replacement number plate.” “However, if the lost, damaged, or stolen number plate or readable number plate is used in connection with an offense penalized under the Revised Penal Code or special penal laws, the failure of the owner to report within three (3) days that the motorcycle is lost, damaged, or stolen, shall subject the owner to a penalty of imprisonment of arresto mayor to prision correccional.” 

In connection with the above-mentioned section, the succeeding sections 12 and 13. Section 13 provides punishments of Php50,000 to Php100,000 or both if the stolen number plate mentioned in section 11 is used. In section 12, it punishes those who erases, tampers, forges, imitates, covers or conceals a number plate or readable number plate and its intentional use by prision mayor or a fine of Php50,000 to Php100,000. 

In addition, when a motorcycle is seized and such was not surrendered immediately by the apprehending officer to the Land Transportation Office and the Philippine National Police through the Joint LTO and PNP Operations and Control Center within twenty-four hours to the local impounding center, he shall be punished by prision correccional. In case he damages such motorcycle, he must be liable for such. If after the motorcycle was impounded, the officer uses it, he shall be criminally, administratively and monetarily liable. 

The budget for the implementation of this Act is Php150,000,000. Furthermore, in the transitory provision, it provides, Motorcycle owners with number plates not in conformity with the provisions of this Act, shall renew their registration and apply for the required readable number plate not later than June 30, 2019. The LTO is given until December 31, 2019 to produce, release and issue the number plates as required by this Act. After December 31, 2019, the penal provisions regarding the use of bigger, readable and color-coded number plates as required under this Act shall take effect. 

LEGAL INFIRMITIES – Republic Act No. 11235

The imposition of penalties and fines as provided in this law is too much. Under section 19(1) art. III of the 1987 Constitution, as used in the case of People vs. Leo Echegaray y Philo G.R. No. 117472 February 7, 1997, provides, “excessive fines shall not be imposed, nor cruel, degrading or inhuman punishment inflicted. Neither shall the death penalty be imposed, unless, for compelling reasons involving heinous crimes, the Congress hereafter provides for it. Any death penalty already imposed shall be reduced to reclusion perpetua.” Like in section 4 of the Act, the imposition of Php20,000 to Php50,000 for a mere failure of the motorcycle owner to register his motorcycle with the Land Transportation Owner within five days, or, loss of number plate or readable number plate, is beyond punishment. 

In section 7 of such law, Php50,000 to Php100,000 for driving without a number plate or readable number plate. Also, in section 12, Php50,000 to Php100,000 for mere erasing, tampering, forging, imitating, covering or concealing a number plate or readable number plate and its intentional use. As well as in the use of a stolen number plate or readable number plate in section 13. The Php50,000 to Php100,000 punishment is clearly and obviously excessive.

The circumstances the owner of the motorcycle must be taken in to consideration. The reason for which is that he might just have an accident in tampering with his number plate. In some cases, he might be just in a condition where he encountered an emergency wherein he could not deal with the registration of his motorcycle in the LTO within five days.  

In Corpuz vs. People G.R. No. 180016 April 29, 2014, it mentions that the second paragraph of Art. 5 is an application of the humanitarian principle that justice must be tempered with mercy. Generally, the courts have nothing to do with the wisdom or justness of the penalties fixed by law. "Whether or not the penalties prescribed by law upon conviction of violations of particular statutes are too severe or are not severe enough, are questions as to which commentators on the law may fairly differ; but it is the duty of the courts to enforce the will of the legislator in all cases unless it clearly appears that a given penalty falls within the prohibited class of excessive fines or cruel and unusual punishment. A petition for clemency should be addressed to the Chief Executive. 

In addition, some may view the penalty provided by law for the offense committed as tantamount to cruel punishment. However, all penalties are generally harsh, being punitive in nature. Whether or not they are excessive or amount to cruel punishment is a matter that should be left to lawmakers. It is the prerogative of the courts to apply the law, especially when they are clear and not subject to any other interpretation than that which is plainly written. But then, in this Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, the provisions pertaining to punishments and fines will be very unfavorable to the people especially those who are poor having no excess money for other things but only for subsistence. 

The appropriation of Php150,000,000 in section 16 for the implementation of this Act which shall be included in the General Appropriations Act is according to the writer of this paper is excessive. Currently, the authorities already have the necessary equipments for the carrying out of the objectives targeted by this law except for the issuance of the number plates. There is no more funds significantly needed for other aspects other than the creation of such bigger and LTO-customized number plate. Hence, the said amount would be questionable for it is prone to sharing to other officials in charge of the matters involving the implementation and execution of this law. As held in Leandro B. Verceles, Jr. vs. Commission on Audit G.R. No. 211553, September 13, 2016, “that government funds and property should be fully protected and conserved; and that irregular, unnecessary, excessive or extravagant expenditures or uses of such funds and property should be prevented.”

LEGAL REMEDIES – prevention and assailment of the implementation and, validity and constitutionality respectively

This law deprives people especially motorists who use motorcycles for their daily routine due process. Under article III section 1 of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, “No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” For instance, an owner who accidentally and unintentionally fails to register his motorcycle within 5 days, is unable to drive a motorcycle that is not his, without a number plate or a readable number plate; lost or damaged his number plate; erased or tampered a number plate unknowingly because of the heavy traffic which would likely be the cause for it might have bumped into another because of its big size; or use of motorcycles with a stolen number for an urgent or important life and death matter, or in other cases, would be punished with excessive penalties without determining first the circumstances attending in his case. In the furtherance of such instance, that he might be engaged in an unrefusable situation which requires more than five days to attend to, he may be hospitalized for a week, he may be abroad working, he may be attending a seminar for two weeks, or that he may be in any other circumstances of similar nature to those mentioned.  

As held in the case of Restituto Ynot, vs Intermediate Appellate Court G.R. No. 74457, March 20, 1987, Justice Cruz stated that: the essence of due process is distilled in the immortal cry of Themistocles to Alcibiades "Strike — but hear me first!" The owners of motorcycle would be deprived of this right which the Constitution guarantees if they are to be arrested, imprisoned, or fined for an action or instance not really of a big deal. The imprisonment, like the fines, herein imposed, is also excessive. It denies a person to be free and productive which violates the guaranty of due process clause of the Constitution. In White Light Corporation vs. City of Manila, G.R. No. 122846, January 20, 2009, it held that “the purpose of the guaranty is to prevent arbitrary governmental encroachment against the life, liberty and property of individuals. The due process guaranty serves as a protection against arbitrary regulation or seizure.” Hence, not being able to equate justice with reality in the country.

In section 10 of Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, the motorcycle of the owner which is impounded shall be forfeited in favor of the government if the owner is found to be guilty of the offense charged. This is unfair for it is in the first place owned by the motorcycle driver. He might have bought it with his own money or it may have been given by his family or relative. In case he is found guilty, the motorcycle must instead be given to his family. Under article xv section 1 of the 1987 Constitution, “The State recognizes the Filipino family as the foundation of the nation. Accordingly, it shall strength its solidarity and actively promote its total development.” In this case, the government is destroying the family for convicting or penalizing him of his crime and getting his motorcycle. He and his family is damaged, notwithstanding the fact that he may prejudice others, the point is that he is still a constituent of this State and as held in Republic of the Philippines vs. Marelyn Tanedo Manalo G.R. No. 221029, April 24, 2018, “Property rights are already substantive rights protected by the Constitution.” If the State protects the substantive property rights of an individual, why does the government need to forfeit the motorcycle in its favor? 

According to a U.S jurisprudence, the liberty secured by the Constitution of the United States does not import an absolute right in each person to be at all times, and in all circumstances, wholly freed from restraint, nor is it an element in such liberty that one person, or a minority of persons residing in any community and enjoying the benefits of its local government, should have power to dominate the majority when supported in their action by the authority of the State. (Jacobson v. Massachusetts, 197 U.S. 11 (1905)). On the part of the motorists in the Philippines, all of them is affected, not just a majority. 

According to a press release in Senate, Senator Leila M. de Lima, a human rights and social justice lawyer, on April 7, 2019 commented, "Singling out a specific group to mask the government's incapacity and inability to weed out criminals and fight criminality is not only tantamount to incompetence, but also reckless and outright discriminatory towards our kababayans who make use of motorcycles to earn a living," this is especially true in the present reality of the Philippines. The Filipinos should have first heard of their views regarding this law for they are directly affected by it and it inflicts more prejudice to those who are poor. Hence, “the disparity is both glaring and appalling. Given that a large majority of those who make use of motorcycles belong to the lower socioeconomic classes who can ill afford such exorbitant fines, this Act can definitively be labeled as 'anti-poor' itself”, she said. In the case of Lawton vs. Steele, 38 L. ed. 385, 388, it was held: “To justify the state in thus interposing its authority in behalf of the public, it must appear, first, that the interests of the public generally, as distinguished from those of a particular class, require such interference; and second, that the means are reasonably necessary for the accomplishment of the purpose, and not unduly oppressive upon individuals.”


The issue pertains to the punishments and fines imposed to those motorcycle owners violating the provisions in R.A No. 11235. In effect, a number of individuals mainly those who are in the lower class, would be greatly affected for the fines and penalties are excessive. It is also unconscionable for them since it deprives them of their basic Constitutional rights. As for the amount allotted for the implementation of this, according to the view of this writer, is not appropriate because the only material expense for its execution is the issuance of the number plates. In relation to that, the use of two number plates to be placed in the front and at the back of the motorcycle is not necessary. The larger print of the number may suffice the readableness of such characters. 

The writer’s position is that the law is not necessary. It is just a form of a useless expense. It is a fact that motorcycles do not entail a body similar to a car. It is a bicycle, and a bicycle can easily pass through narrow spaces. With the motor engine used, more acceleration and speed can be attained. Thus, no matter how big and readable the number plate is, the rider of such motorcycle could just flee in seconds and the people around would be unable to capture the specific plate immediately. In other words, having two LTO-customized number plates is nonsense for a motorcycle is quick and can pass through traffic like a rat, surprised by an individual, running to the nearest object or hole to hide. This aggravates the problem especially when it is night time and there is no light or the light is weak. 

The most probable and practical solution to the problem of motorcycle crime, in view of the writer’s position, is that there be a good quality, high standard, durable structure, and military-grade closed-circuit television or CCTV coupled with a football field-like lighting capable of illuminating the whole place. It will be then and there, that motorcycle crimes would likely be reduced, if not totally eradicated because of the clear vision of the actual commission of the crime which the perpetrator, the motorcycle he used and the means and ways he executed the offense could easily be seen and determined. Another solution is police visibility. According to the crime statistics from the PNP Chief Directorial Staff Office, “the police are the first line of defense against crimes. It has been concluded that crime will be reduced if the number of police will be increased.” In both solutions, the authorities would likely have more chances of arresting the perpetrator and the latter would have less courage to maintain and perform his ill-will disposition because he would feel that he is always watched monitored. 

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