Is this even legal?

How many times in our lifetime have we heard the phrase “Only in the Philippines”? That phrase is generally used as a reflection of the sad realities that Filipinos face in their everyday lives. One of those “Only in the Philippines” moments is at Greenwoods Executive Village, in Cainta, Rizal.

A recently implemented village ruling requires non-resident motorcycle riders to “deposit” their helmets at the village gate upon entry for security reasons.

Our friend and avid motorcycle rider, Mon Astillero, who also happens to reside in the village, has confirmed with that the current administration of the Greenwoods Executive Village Home Owner's Association, Inc. (GEVHAI) implemented the rule to prohibit motorcycle riders from entering their village's premises unless they complied with their “no helmet rule”.

A private village in Cainta requires motorcycle riders to surrender their helmets image

Photo by Mon Astillero, Greenwoods Executive Village resident and avid motorcycle rider.

Under the no helmet rule of Greenwoods Executive Village, all non-residents shall surrender their driver's license upon entry, along with their motorcycle helmet for security reasons. This new rule came into effect after an alleged robbery was perpetrated by criminals riding-in-tandem on a motorcycle. Because they were wearing full-face helmets, they could not be identified.

Before this incident, village security at the gates had already required non-resident motorcycle riders to surrender their driver's licenses and remove their helmets upon entry. Astillero also confirmed that the officers of the GEVHAI have implemented this no helmet rule without any consultation from the homeowners, many of whom are also avid motorcycle riders of big and small displacement motorcycles.

Some residents, even if they are not motorcycle riders, have shared their frustration over the new ruling on social media. The long process has already caused long queues and traffic jams at their village gates. It also led to some heated arguments between the village guards and motorcycle riders. As for the village guards, they are just doing what they are told to do by GEVHAI.

Riders have been the most vocal about this ruling. Requiring them to surrender their helmet compromises their safety. After all, serious injuries can still result from a motorcycle crash at speeds of 1 - 20 kilometers per hour when without a helmet. Motorcycle riders also argue that it is discriminatory as criminals may simply shift to other modes of transportation like cars or vans which are not subjected to a thorough security check upon entry. There is also no guarantee of anything from the GEVHAI should the rider's helmet get lost or damaged while in their security's possession. 

Against the Republic Act

The Philippines, just like many other countries, has its own national motorcycle helmet law: Republic Act 10054 or the Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009. Under this law, “All motorcycle riders, including drivers and back riders, shall at all times wear standard protective motorcycle helmets while driving, whether long or short drives, in any type of road and highway.” Cities, municipalities, the barangays and even the private villages within the Philippines are no exception.

Of late, however, some localities, or private villages, in this case, have begun to implement their own rulings contrary to the Republic Act in the hopes to curb crimes done by riding-in-tandem criminals. Should the good senator Bong Revilla, who authored the RA 10054, act on this? Or should motorcycle riders sacrifice their safety for the wrongdoings of the few?