Yesterday, the Land Transportation Office – National Capital Region West headed by Atty. Clarence “Chuck” Guinto, turned over the first batch of the new, doble plaka-compliant license plates to motorcycle dealers. Each of these new license plates comes with an RFID sticker that must be attached to the motorcycle’s headlight. According to the LTO, this sticker contains the electronic OR/CR of the motorcycle for easier identification by a scanner.
RFID being installed on the motorcycle's headlight
Being a sticker, just like the front plate was promised to be, a lot of netizens thought that this would be the new front decal rather than a larger one as feared. Some were even quick to criticize the LTO for installing it over the headlight. Just like cars that come with an identification RFID sticker besides the two plates, the new requirement is being implemented on motorcycles as well.
RFID is not limited to the expressways
Perhaps for many, the idea of an RFID sticker is best know as an account identification number, particularly used for cashless transactions like in tollways. After all, they also require the installation of a sticker for vehicles to pass through.
However, an RFID also has many other uses, such as serving as a digital ID. In this case, the sticker is part of the RFID tagging project by the LTO. The project traces back 10 years and was intended for all types of vehicles, including motorcycles. The use of RFID technology, according to then-LTO assistant secretary, Arturo Lomibao, will allow the agency and other law enforcement agencies to quickly access vehicle information with a scanner to aid in traffic management, law enforcement, and crime prevention.
LTO’s executive director, Atty. Romeo Vera Cruz, has confirmed with MotoPinas.com that the RFID will NOT serve as the front license plate decal as prescribed by the Republic Act 11235 or the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act (doble plaka law). That begs the question: will the LTO soon proceed with the distribution of the front license plate decal? The LTO said, “We’ll get there.”
“Papunta tayo jan, [pero] ‘di lang masabi kung kailan (We’ll get there, but we still can't say exactly when.),” said one of the LTO officials present during the turnover ceremony yesterday.
For now, the LTO’s main focus is to catch up and deliver the over 1.4-million plates in backlog and hope to double their daily printing capacity of 7,500 motorcycle plates by investing in more fully-automated plate printing machines.
“Republika ng walang plaka”
A few years back, the LTO sought a new supplier of license plates for all types of vehicles. Unfortunately, problems with the supplier, as well as a bidding process that was marred with corruption allegations, has led the Commission on Audit (COA) to file the necessary charges and production of plates halted.
Things were further complicated when Senators Richard “Dick” Gordon (author) and Vicente “Tito” Sotto III (co-author) filed for a senate bill that would require motorcycles to have a bigger number plate for the rear, as well as a number plate for the front.
According to these senators, the bigger number plates, as well as a front plate would help identify riding-in-tandem criminals more easily through the getaway motorcycle’s plate number.
Then, on March 2019, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11235, dubbed by the riding community as the “doble plaka law”. Besides the bigger rear plate number and front plate number, the law also prescribes stiff penalties for those who violate the law: up to PhP50,000 and 6 years imprisonment.
After a brief consultation with the motorcycle industry and its consumers, the LTO came up with a couple of design proposals but intervention from politicians again complicated things. On March this year, the LTO came up with the final design of the rear license plate.
Case vs doble plaka
Despite its implementation, many in the motorcycle industry and riding community still oppose RA 11235 and its provisions. Citing discrimination, motorcycle safety risk, as well as possible Constitutional violation, members of the riders group, Riders of the Philippines, has filed for a Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition against Republic Act 11235 before the Quezon City Regional Trial Court on July 1, 2020.
The group hopes to receive a favorable ruling from the court and possibly the issuance of a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) and/or writ of preliminary injunction.
Also on the same month, a single mom who works as a motorcycle courier filed the second case against the Doble Plaka Law before the Manila Regional Trial Court. In her petition, she says that “RA 11235, particularly sections 4, 5, 6, 7, 9, 11, 12 and 14, and its corresponding Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) are invalid and unconstitutional” and added that the said law “creates a legal burden inconsistent with, or completely disregards the constitutionally protected rights of professional motorcycle owners and riders.” The court will look over this petition and determine if it will issue a preliminary injunction or Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) against the law's provisions.