'Hindi kami kriminal': Motorcyclists hold unity ride vs 'unfair' policies

MANILA, Philippines – Motorcycle riders on Sunday, May 27, protested the government's alleged discriminatory policies against them and sought a meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.

Riders from Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, and Laguna trooped to the People Power Monument to join the unity ride organized by the Riders of the Philippines (ROTP). From there, they traversed EDSA, Quezon Avenue, and España Boulevard, until they reached Mendiola, where they delivered a letter to Malacañang.

Organizers estimated that around 5,000 riders joined the protest.

"The community of motorcyclists is growing and expanding but so have regulations issued by both the local and national government agencies that target and tag riders as troublemakers. The community will not take these sitting down. We will fight for our rights and we are making that stand now," said Jobert Bolanos of the Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), one of the ROTP convenors.

Robert Perillo, co-convenor of ROTP and a member of the Bulacan Motorcycle Riders Confederation, condemned the supposed "arbitrary implementation of anti-modification regulations."

These include ordinances banning helmets and requiring half-face helmets, which some cities implemented amid increasing crime prevalence. (READ: With EJKs and crime, should motorcycle helmets be required?)

"Motorcycle accessories are confiscated by enforcers without basis, leaving many of us confused with the apparent martial law treatment [against] us.... We condemn the no-helmet and half-face helmet ordinances that underpin the ongoing criminal tagging of motorcycle riders. This policy does not only discriminate against motorcycle riders, it also puts our safety at risk," Perillo said.

Also present were riders from motorcycle ride-hailing app Angkas, as they are pushing for the legalization of their services. (READ: Why passengers and bikers think Angkas matters)

Commuter groups such as Transport Watch and Move Metro Manila also joined the protest.

ROTP said simultaneous activities were also held in Zambales, Bacolod City, Cebu City, and Davao City. – Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com

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