Thu. Nov 14th, 2019

City Council backtracks on new helmet ordinance

(Photo courtesy of PMO, through USP President Jon Raymer Oclarit)

Facing opposition from bike riders and the general public, the City Council has rejected a proposed ordinance prohibiting the wearing of full-faced helmets within the poblacion.

City Ordinance No. 115-2017, introduced more than two years ago by Councilor Rolando Amurao, would have replaced the full-faced with open-faced helmets from downtown Puerto Princesa to Sta. Lourdes village in the north, and Irawan in the south.

Amurao said in an interview with Palawan News on Monday that four of his colleagues in the City Council rejected his proposed measure because of the safety issue which was also voiced out by those who attended the last public consultation on June 13.

(Photo courtesy of PMO, through USP President Jon Raymer Oclarit)

He said that he did not withdraw the proposed measure, but he submitted to the general decision of the City Council to “keep it on file”.

“May mga komento rin ang mga konsehal na kaparehas din sa mga sinabi doon sa public hearing. More or less talagang ayaw din nila, hindi na rin ako nagpumilit,” said Amurao.

The councilors who sided with the public on the rejection of the ordinance were Victor Oliveros, Jonjie Rodriguez, Jimmy Carbonell, and Henry Gadiano.

Earlier, bike groups and clubs in the city have threatened to take legal action against the City Council if it will pass the proposed ordinance.

They denounced it as “unfair, oppressive, discriminatory, unreasonable, and contravenes the constitutional rights of the motorcycle riders to be safe and secured on public roads.”

Jestoni Bantillo, founder and president of the RS Lovers Riders Club (RSLRC) and the current chairman of the Palawan Motorcycle Organization (PMO), said Saturday that the public’s voice and opinion must be considered by the proponent of the law in the City Council or they will take the issue to court.

Bantillo said that the RSLRC and the PMO, which is composed of 14 law-abiding motorcycle clubs, are against the wearing of half-face or open-face helmets because “they are less safe to motorists; it is invalid; unsustainable as it lacks appropriate basis in relation to preventing crimes involving motorcycle-riding perpetrators, and it compromises public safety.”

He said that the Philippine National Police (PNP) is currently implementing the “Oplan Clean Rider” to prevent rogues on the road and this should be strongly implemented instead of the half-face helmet law.

“We will discuss pa kaakibat ng lahat ng board of directors kung ano next namin na hakbang. May clean rider sticker na sinusulong ang PNP, isang campaign ito para mabawasan ang mga pasaway na motorista at dapat ‘yon [ang] tutukan nila para mahuli [ang] mga walang license at mga hindi rehistradong motor [at ang] mga bumabyaheng walang plaka,” Bantillo said.

He said that what the city lacks is the strict implementation of traffic and other pertinent laws by the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the PNP, and the City Traffic Management Office (CTMO).

Jon Raymer Oclarit, a law student and president of the United Sportsbikes of Palawan (USP) which is a member of the PMO, also said Saturday that the ordinance being pushed by Councilor Rolando Amurao is “invalid” because it does not satisfy the six requirements that the Supreme Court (SC) prescribes.

He particularly cited SC case “The Solicitor General vs. The Metropolitan Manila Authority, G.R. No. 102782 on December 11, 1991”, which is about the validity of city and municipal ordinances.

Oclarit said that ordinances must not be unfair and tyrannical, must not discriminate against anyone, must not prohibit but may regulate trade, must no be without justifiable reason, should be general and consistent with public policies, and must not be against the Philippine Constitution.

“Ang argument ko, when it comes to the Constitution, against siya sa right to life and right to liberty. According to a Supreme Court decision, the right to life also pertains to right against any physical harm or infliction and right to liberty is the right to choose as long as it is legal,” Oclarit pointed out.

He explained that wearing full-face helmets is part of that right to life of riders and is not against the law as it is compliant with Republic Act 10054 or the “Motorcycle Helmet Act of 2009”.

Oclarit added that based on the Act, regulation of the helmet law is only the responsibility of the Department of Transportation (DOTr) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

“Walang sinabi doon na authorized ang local government units (LGUs) pag dating sa pag-regulate ng helmet use ng motorcyclists. Ibig sabihin lang nito ay walang authority ang city sa pag regulate ng use of helmets. Unfair siya kasi naisasantabi ang safety ng motorcyclists. Based na rin sa statistics, mas maraming motorcyclists ang nagiging casualty na hindi naka full-face helmet compared sa victims ng riding-in-tandem,” he said.

In defense, Amurao said that the DTI allows the use of the open-faced helmet in the city proper.

As former police chief of Puerto Princesa City, he said he knows how the riding-in-tandem criminals operate and want them stopped.

“Hindi ko [naman] inatras ang [proposed ordinance]. Kasi I am requesting the wisdom [o] ‘yong kagustuhan ng Sanggunian. Apat na ‘yong nagsalita na ayaw nila [at] nag-request na i-keep on file [na lang]. Para wala nang ano…, keep on file na lang,” Amurao said.

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