Anti-poor remarks begin following MMDA’s plans to fine motorcycles huddled beneath bridges

Rainfall has been somewhat consistent in the past few days, and the MMDA has reminded motorcyclists that huddling underneath bridges, overpasses, and flyovers during a downpour is unsafe and illegal. A plan was bared that the agency’s enforcers may soon start collecting fines who indulge in this “practice”; but alas, the “anti-poor” sentiments have begun. The agency’s Acting Chairman, though, was very quick to respond.

MMDA not discriminating against motorcyclists and thinks of their and others’ safety

Mmda Responds 1 Rider Party List Discrimination Inline 01 Min

Photo: Don Artes

In a published article by 1-Rider Party-List Representative Rodge Gutierrez, the Congressman recognized that the MMDA’s plan was sound. At the same time, he also stated that it was “hindi makatao” [inhumane] and “isa itong anti-poor o pagmenos” [it is anti-poor and discriminatory]. Gutierrez went on to relate that a large percentage of motorcyclists come from the “poor” sector and that the intended PHP 500 fine is too hefty for them.

The Congressman also related that though there is no intention to oppose the MMDA’s plan, he hopes that proper plans were first laid out before announcing it to the Media during the agency’s inauguration of its new PHP 300M Communications and Command Center (CCC) last week.

Mmda Responds 1 Rider Party List Discrimination Inline 02 Min

Photo: Metro Manila Development Authority

The article did not miss the eyes of MMDA Acting Chairman Atty. Don Artes. Straight out, the agency head stated that it is wrong to say that this move is an act of discrimination against motorcyclists. It is, in fact, their (motorcyclists’) safety that they are simply looking after.

Artes went on to ask Gutierrez how the latter could say that the Media who were covering the CCC’s inauguration fell silent during the announcement of the plans to penalize huddled motorcyclists when he was not present at the ceremony. Artes reiterated that those from the Media who were there during the inauguration and announcement were in agreement that the practice of seeking shelter under bridges, walkways, and flyovers is wrong and dangerous, and contributes to the slowing down of traffic flow.

In his closing statement, Artes stated “Sa aking pagkakaalam, ang trabaho ng kongresista ay lumikha ng batas para sundin ng mamamayan. Hindi tama na ang isang mambabatas mismo ang naghihikayat sa publiko na suwayin ang batas [To my knowledge, a Congressman’s job is to create laws that citizens will follow. It is not right that a lawmaker himself would influence the public to undermine the law].”

Mmda Responds 1 Rider Party List Discrimination Inline 03 Min

Photo: Metro Manila Development Authority

Such statements and sentiments were, to be honest, to be expected. Granted, Cong. Gutierrez does have a point that the great majority of motorcyclists may have a difficult time coughing up a PHP 500 fine. On the other hand, the MMDA is also correct in reminding the public about an existing law and the real dangers posed by the practice of many motorcyclists when the rain starts pouring. Imposing a fine may not sit well with some, and we leave that decision to the powers that be.

Mmda Penalize Motorcycles Under Flyover Bridge Main 00 Min

Photo: Trisha Ann Simbulan as shared by MMDA

One thing cannot be denied, though. It is a problem when motorcycles would take up so much space, enough to close off an entire width of a roadway as they try to get some respite from a downpour. Talks are currently in progress wherein the MMDA is seeking the help of gas stations and other establishments along major roads to perhaps set up tents that can provide shelter for motorcyclists, but that may take some time before being implemented.

Regardless, let us allow the rule of law and allow those who are in their rightful government agencies to do their jobs and carry out their duties as they see fit. We empathize with those who may have apprehensions and grievances about the new fine that the MMDA proposes, but as we say, Dura Lex Sed Lex. It may be harsh, but it is the law, and it’s our citizen’s responsibility to abide.

Mikko Juangco
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