MANILA - (UPDATE) Thousands of motorcyclists gathered Sunday near the People Power monument in EDSA, Quezon City as part of nationwide "Unity Ride" to protest a law that requires bigger license plates on the front and back of motorcycles, the violation of which could lead to penalties of up to P100,000.
President Rodrigo Duterte earlier this month signed the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act that aims to prevent crimes by making number plates more readable from a distance and color-coded based on the country’s regions.
In what they called a "show of force" against what they dubbed an unjust law, thousands of motorcyclists rode from the People Power monument, traversed EDSA before regrouping at the Senate building in Pasay.
The Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, pushed by Sen. Richard Gordon, requires license plates to be readable from 15 meters away, making it easier for law enforcers to apprehend criminals on motorcycles.
However, bigger front plates interfere with the aerodynamics of a motorcycle and may get detached at high speeds or by strong wind, Motorcycle Rights Organization chairman Jobert Bolanos earlier said.
Riders said they are also unsure if current motorcycle models can be safely modified to accept a front license plate.
Rod Cruz of the Arangkada Riders Alliance showed the front side of different motorbikes and said they were unlikely to accommodate a front license plate, especially one as big as proposed in the law.
Under the law authored by Gordon, also known as Republic Act 11235, the motorcycles shown by Cruz may not even be registered with the Land Transportation Office.
"Any motorcycle which does not have any capability to bear and showcase the required readable number plate shall not be allowed to be registered with the LTO," says Section 14 of the law.
It also tasks the Bureau of Customs to bar the importation of motorcycles whose designs cannot conform to the law's requirements.
But the law is also unlikely to prevent crime, Bolanos said, reasoning that a criminal "will not use his own plate number."
Across the Philippines, motorcycle groups also held protest rides against the Gordon-authored law.
In the provinces of Laguna, Quezon, Batangas thousands of motorcyclists took to the streets to protest the "doble plaka" law.
Simultaneous mass actions, attended by thousands of motorcyclists, were also held in Iloilo City, Bacolod City and Zamboanga City.
Thousands of riders also held a motorcade in Albay.
In San Fernando, Pampanga about 3,000 riders also took part in the mass action versus the new law.
With reports from Anjo Bagaoisan, Fred Cipres, Fay Virrey, Leizle Lacastesantos, Trisha Mostoles, Karren Canon and Martian Muyco, ABS-CBN News