Surigao City mulls no-helmet policy to prevent crimes

SURIGAO CITY (MindaNews / 25 Nov) – A legal officer of the city government here said it may be possible to ban the use of helmets as a deterrent to robberies and other crimes committed by suspects riding motorcycles.

Lawyer Manuel D. Delani said it may be possible even there is an existing national law that mandates the use of standard protective gear, helmets included, for motorcycle riders.

Delani said if the city council would pass an ordinance, then a prohibition for the use of helmets can be realized within the city limits and this would allow traffic enforcers and policemen to ask motorists to remove their helmets.

The lawyer expressed his opinion when Mayor Ernesto T. Matugas has urged the city council to pass an ordinance banning helmets.

The call came with the series of robberies and murder cases, mostly in broad daylight, perpetrated by motorcycle-riding suspects. Some of theses cases were captured on CCTV but the suspects could not be identified because of their covered faces.

Among the latest cases took place on November 9 when four armed men robbed the local branch of the United Coconut Planters Bank, carting away P4.4 million in a heist that took less than a minute.

Delani said some cities like Dagupan, Cotabato and Tandag in Surigao del Sur have banned the use of helmets in an attempt to lessen crimes.

But several lawyers in town called this plan a knee-jerk reaction on the part of the city government.

Lawyer Carlo Reynaldo Lozada said the city government under the present administration and the police force have failed to address criminality.

“If robbers would use handkerchiefs or scarfs, would the city ban these, too?” said Lozada.

City Councilor Jose V. Begil Jr. said he doesn’t favor Matugas’s proposal.

He said it will violate Republic Act 10054, the law requiring motorcycle riders to wear standard protective helmets, and finds it a shallow solution to address crimes.

Begil, who is also a practicing lawyer, said banning helmets is not a decisive solution to robberies and other crimes.

The councilor, who chairs the committee on transportation of the Sangguniang Panlungsod, said might consider banning the use of helmet when one is not driving, or when in a business establishment.

He said he also favors half-faced helmets or short helmets that will show the wearer’s face.

Emelita S. Orongan, local chief of the Land Transportation Office, said she doesn’t believe banning helmets would bring down criminality.

“We have already a national law and even if there is a local ordinance that would support the ban of using motorcycle helmets, still that would not supersede the national law,” she noted.

Orongan told MindaNews that their office would not hesitate to apprehend those driving motorcycles without helmets.