GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/15 September) — In a bid to address the spate of unsolved murders and criminal activities perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects, city officials are considering the possibility of replicating Mandaluyong City’s controversial motorcycle riding-in-tandem policy.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Monday the local government will send a team to Mandaluyong to study and observe the implementation of a local ordinance that bans two males who are unrelated or not of immediate kin from riding a motorcycle together.
He was referring to Ordinance No. 550, which Mandaluyong imposed starting earlier this month in response to the rising crime incidents in the area involving motorcycle riding-in-tandem suspects.
“We want to implement a similar measure to further strengthen our peace and security-related interventions,” he said.
Under the ordinance, males are prohibited from riding pillion unless they are sons of the drivers or are minors at least seven-years old.
It only allows spouses, parents and siblings to ride with motorcycle drivers and riders must bring their proof of relationship such as marriage certificates and identification cards.
Since the ordinance’s implementation last September 4, Mandaluyong officials declared that they have not recorded a single crime-related incident involving motorcycle riding-in-tandem suspects.
As in the case of Mandaluyong City, Rivera acknowledged that the adoption of such measure in the city could trigger strong opposition from motorcycle owners and drivers of motorcycles-for-hire or “habal-habal.”
He noted that the city government should map out strategies to ensure that the livelihood of local motorcycles-for-hire drivers “will not be sacrificed.”
“We have to balance these factors, modify the ordinance and come up with provisions that are suited to our situation here,” the mayor said.
Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, expressed support to the city government’s move saying it could be an effective strategy in terms of deterring criminal activities involving motorcycle riding-in-tandem suspects.
But he said the local government should look into alternative measures in terms of its impact on motorcycle-for-hire drivers.
“Studies should be made in terms of the handling of habal-habal drivers because it also concerns their livelihood,” Camba said.
From January to June this year, the city police office recorded a total of 70 shooting incidents that were mostly perpetrated by motorcycle riding-in-tandem gunmen.
Of these cases, it said only 31 cases have remained unsolved but most of the suspects are still at-large.
Citing results of their investigation, police officials earlier said most of these cases were related to illegal drugs and personal grudges.
The top three barangays that posted the most number of gun-related killings were barangays Calumpang with eight and Lagao and Dadiangas West with six each. (MindaNews)