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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Zamboanga village bans full face motorcycle helmets; orders all violators to be shot

Zamboanga village bans full face motorcycle helmets; orders all violators to be shot

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanao Examiner / Apr. 25, 2012) – A remote village in Zamboanga City which is trying to promote eco-tourism has banned motorcycle riders from wearing a full-face helmet and warned violators will be shot.
A huge tarpaulin sign now hangs on the entrance of Lumayang, about 20 kilometers east of Zamboanga, and the new village law has attracted strong criticism from various sectors because of its extreme warning.
Frederick Atilano, the village chieftain, insisted the new law would make Lumayang and its 1,600 residents safe from hired killers, who usually use full face helmets, in their murderous trail in Zamboanga.
He said in February, motorcycle gunmen wearing full face helmets, killed a school principal, Wilson Recisio, 40, in Lumayang.
“This is for the safety of our people against killers. We are banning the use of full face helmets in Lumayang because we wanted to protect the safety of everyone. Motorcycle riders who insist on entering Lumayang with their full face helmet will be shot,” he said.
Atilano said they also put up a checkpoint in the village to ensure the implementation of his order.
“It is a stupid idea. All they have to do is intensify their anti-criminality campaign and for the police to deploy more foot patrols and to aggressively run after hired killers. Guns-for-hire will always find their targets with or without any get-away vehicles or full face helmets,” said one resident, Benjamin dela Cruz.
Radio commentaries also criticized Atilano’s order to shoot violators. Gun attacks and killings in Zamboanga are not uncommon and most of the murders were largely blamed to hired killers on motorcycles.
Aside from his grave warning, Atilano’s order to ban the use of helmets also violated the Republic Act No. 10054, also known as the “Motorcycle Helmet Act” law which was signed in March 2010, said lawyer Aminola Abaton, the regional director of the Land Transportation Office for Western Mindanao.
He said the use of helmet is centered on the very safety of the motorcycle riders and the law must at all times be complied with.
“The law does not provide condition where an exemption may be made and while it is true that lately we have observed increase in the numbers of crimes perpetrated by motorcycle riders in tandem, relaxing the law on use of helmet may not be the solution. In fact, Zamboanga has been cited as one of the most compliant cities in the country as far as the helmet law is concerned,” Abaton told the Mindanao Examiner.
“It is one of the success stories in Zamboanga City where residents should be proud of because it demonstrated the resolved of our local officials and national law enforcement agencies in enforcing its provision,” he added.
Abaton said according to the helmet law, any person caught not wearing the standard protective motorcycle helmet will be punished with a fine of P1,500 for the first offense; P3,000 for the second offense; P5,000 for the third offense, and P10,000 and confiscation of the driver’s license for the fourth and succeeding offenses. (Mindanao Examiner)