MANILA – A churchgoer has just finished attending an evening service and while waiting for a passenger jeepney outside, a riding in tandem attacked and snatched her bag containing her identifications cards, mobile phone and tuition fee for her daughter.
Marilyn dela Cruz, a resident of Imus, tried but failed to protect her bag but criminals overpowered her and easily escaped on board an unregistered motorcycle.
It was just one of the alarming number of crimes involving riding in tandem that prompted Senator Vicente Sotto III to filed Senate Bill 2344 that will prohibit backriders on two-wheeled motorcycles.
”I hope this kind of bill will be passed into law so that no other victims will suffer the same fate I experienced from these kind of criminals. They are increasing,” Dela Cruz said.
Despite her unforgettable encounter with the riding in tandem criminals, Dela Cruz still thanked God for saving her life.
”It was a fearful experience but I was lucky because I was not killed. Other riding in tandem criminals are ruthless because they shot dead their victims. I hope this and other crimes will be stopped,” she said.
For motorcycle owners, the proposed bill, however, will not eliminate the riding in tandem criminals.
”The best solution to these riding in tandem criminals is police visibility,” Fritz Cangayda, a security guard, said.
Cangayda has been using motorcycle for the last eight years and admitted he offer back ride not only to his family members but to his friends.
”Rain or shine I’ve been using my motorcycles because I can save at least 70 pesos every day. We can save even more if me and my wife use this motorcycle,” he said.
In filing his bill, Sotto explained the use of motorcycles in the commission of crime in our cities and highways is common knowledge.
”Motorcycle back-riders or riding in tandem have ample opportunity to commit heinous crimes with impunity because of the facility of getting away from the scene of the crime by use of a motorcycle which can avoid and wind through even heavy traffic,” Sotto said.
For individuals opposing his bill, Sotto said his proposal should be given a chance in his effort to stop the increasing number of crimes involving riding in tandem perpetrators.
”This may be frowned upon by some members of society, but we have to think of the higher good of protecting the life and limb of our citizens,” Sotto, former chairman of the Dangerous Drug Board, said.
Under his bill, the back-riders shall not be allowed on a two-wheeled motorcycle or scooter “unless the passenger is the spouse, child or parent of the driver.
The prohibition, however, shall not apply to members of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) “while on official duty and in uniform.”
Sotto proposed imprisonment and a fine of not less than P20,000 for any person who will violate the provision of the bill to be known as “No Motorcycle Back-Rider Act of 2014.”
Last week, Mandaluyong City has announced it approved a new ordinance which also prohibit riding in tandem beginning next month to reduce the commission of riding in tandem crimes.
Similar to Sotto’s measure, the Mandaluyong City ordinance will also not allow back-rider who are not spouse, parents and siblings of the motorcycle drivers.
Reports said riders must bring their proof of relationship such as marriage certificates and identificaiton cards.
From January to March this year, the riding in tandem-related crimes committee in Mandaluyong City has reached to 500 or 125 percent increased compared to similar period in 2013.
A similar measure is being studied in Manila following the spate of riding in tandem criminal activities.
Records from the National Police showed that last year, more than 3,000 crimes related to riding in tandem motorcycle riders have been recorded in Metro Manila alone.
News and social media are rife with reports of robberies, murders and other crimes perpetrated by suspects riding in tandem.
Senior Superintendent Benigno Durana Jr., head of PNP Directorate for Operations Law Enforcement Division, has confirmed the rising incidence of motorcycle-related street crimes.
The alarming rise of crime statistics prompted the PNP leadership to include in its plan, in coordination with the National Capital Region Police Office, to give each policeman in all checkpoints photos of criminals – either fugitives or with a history of pulling off crimes on motorcycles.
The PNP said most crimes were recorded in the barangay (villages), police blotters, and in other law enforcement agencies.
In the absence of law, the law enforcers have to strengthen patrol and checkpoint operations in crime-prone areas involving criminals riding motorcycles in tandem.
Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel ‘Mar’ Roxas said regular checkpoints have been doubled not only in Metro Manila but around the country to prevent crimes.
At present, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has backed the checkpoints by aggressive campaign under Oplan (Operational Plan) Katok and Oplan Lambat.
Oplan Katok is focused on the campaign against loose guns and firearms with expired licenses; the strategy is to visit at least 20 delinquent gun owners every day for the 38 police stations in Metro Manila.
On the other hand, Oplan Lambat is focused on the campaign against unregistered motorcycles that also include those with no license plates.