Backrider ban

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Saturday, August 23, 2014


OF LATE, the motorcycle has gained notoriety as a form of transport for criminals in the country. Whether the crime is a simple snatching of a poor pedestrian’s purse or a gruesome murder of some political figure, the once nondescript transport of the masses has now metamorphosed into the dreaded getaway vehicle of criminals.

And much to the dismay of motorcycle owners who have invested hard-earned money into buying the cheapest form of transportation in the country, their prized asset is now a much-vilified vehicle being targeted by mind-blowing legislation.

To curb the rising tide of crimes being committed by perpetrators riding in tandem on motorcycles, Sen. Vicente “Tito” Sotto has proposed to ban men riding in pairs on motorcycles. Exempted from this legislation are uniformed pairs of military and police officers as well as drivers whose passengers are their children or parents.

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Mandaluyong City has approved a new ordinance patterned after Senator Sotto’s bill banning men riding in tandem on motorcycles unless they can produce government IDs proving they are relatives. Oddly, the law makes special mention of male riders who might wear wigs to disguise themselves as women. These riders may be flagged down for questioning.

While I understand the distress over the unfettered criminality, I’m finding all these legislative solutions confounding.
Does it make sense that we have to burden the few police enforcers on the streets with the task of scrutinizing thousands of motorcycle riders to determine if they are men, women or children? Who can really tell these days if people are wearing wigs or have undergone surgical procedures to barely resemble the faces and bodies they were originally born with?

Must our police enforcers invest valuable time and energy flagging down male riders and demanding birth certificates and government IDs? Can you imagine how much time a police enforcer could spend confirming the identification of just one motorcycle-riding tandem? Really, did anyone think about the logic or the logistics of implementing this law?

And why is there a presumption of criminal intent on all adult males biologically unrelated to each other riding a motorcycle together? Isn’t this rather sexist? Or foolish? What kind of government presumes guilt and foists the burden of proof upon its citizenry? A very desperate government, I think.

Why not crack down on unregistered motorcycles? Control the proliferation of loose and unregistered firearms? Increase police visibility? Install closed-circuit television cameras on the streets? Why not equip our police enforcers with motorcycles so they can go after motorcycle-riding criminals?

We don’t have a dearth in legislation but we do have a deficiency in implementation.

How long can banning motorcycle riders in tandem stem criminality in our streets? Only until the creative juices of the Filipino can find ways around it. Really, how hard can it be for Filipinos to dress like the police or military to commit crimes in this country?
We can ban the innocent back-rider or we can arrest, prosecute and incarcerate the guilty criminal.

email: sunstarcebucolumnist@yahoo.com, twitter: http://twitter.com/melanietlim

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on August 24, 2014.

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