The motorcycle is perhaps the most popular mode of transportation for the masses, especially if we consider how fast it can take its riders from point A to point B. It is also critical for livelihood as the motorcycle-based courier industry has given jobs to thousands of riders particularly during the pandemic.
Unfortunately for riders, especially those in the motorcycle taxi industry, the City of Mandaluyong has an ordinance that penalizes riders if they have a male pillion that is not family-related. In 2014, the city enacted Ordinance No. 550, S-2014 or the “Ordinance Regulating Motorcycle Riding-in-Tandem in Mandaluyong City”. The effectivity of this ordinance has been extended perpetually by the passing of City Ordinance No. 694, S-2018.
To summarize, it prohibits riding any male from riding as pillion (passenger) on two-wheeled motorcycles within the city limits, unless he is a first-degree relative e.g.: son or father or a child between 7-10 years of age. Should the rider and back rider fail to prove that they are related in the first degree of consanguinity, they will be brought to the PNP Criminal Investigation Unit for further investigation and verification. Exemptions to this rule are female passengers of male riders or female passengers of female riders. The ordinance was enacted to prevent crimes, such as theft, mugging or murder, perpetrated by male suspects riding in tandem on motorcycles.
Penalties are: P1,000 for the first offense, P2,000 for the second offense and P3,000 for the third offense for both the rider and back (pillion) rider that may include 3 months jail time.
A recent Court of Appeals decision may change that.
In a 26-page decision, the Court of Appeals (CA) has ruled that Mandaluyong City’s Ordinance No. 550, S-2014, Ordinance No. 595 S-2015 and Ordinance No. 694, S-2018, called by riders as the “anti-backrider ordinance”, are UNCONSTITUTIONAL, and has prohibited the city from enforcing or implementing such ordinances.
The ruling also said that the clause on the above city ordinances stating that most motorcycle riding-in-tandem cases were perpetrated by male riders and backriders are not based on factual data or in any way supported by evidence.
Furthermore, the CA ruled that the city’s ordinance is discriminatory. “The use of motorcycles, as compared to other motor vehicles and cars, as a favorite means used by criminals, as claimed by respondent-appellee City of Mandaluyong, is a sweeping generalization that did not justify the limitation imposed on the full use of the motorcycle as the owners deem fit. The subject ordinances are unreasonable and oppressive as they substantially divest the owners of motorcycles of the beneficial use of their property.”
Currently, the ordinance is still suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The CA has decided to rule on the constitutionality of the ordinances because the suspension is only temporary.