In the bustling streets of the Philippines, where motorcycles are favored for being able to weave through traffic with agility and speed, the number plate of a motorcycle is generally placed on the rear end. This has become a hot issue, as the increasing number of motorcycle riders brought about an increase in motorcycle-related crimes, otherwise tagged as riding-in-tandem. Unfortunately for the honest riders, these riding-in-tandem criminals have been causing such a stir, the lawmakers were prompted to enact the Republic Act (RA) No. 11235, also known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act, commonly known as the “Doble Plaka” law—an act which requires them to have the plate numbers in both the front and rear ends of the motorcycle.
While it may seem like a trivial concern, the placement of the number plate of a motorcycle has long become a subject of a great debate. The number plate holds important implications for safety, law enforcement, and even aesthetics that in the Philippines, a law prescribing front and rear placement of license plates, Republic Act (RA) No. 11235, also known as the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act or the “Doble Plaka” law has been enacted. It was met with protests, though, and was temporary lifted to this day.
Motorcycle Number Plates in the Philippines
In the Philippines, the number plate for motorcycles is commonly referred to as the “motorcycle plate” or “motor plate.” These plates display a unique combination of letters and numbers assigned to individual motorcycles for identification purposes. The standard practice requires mounting the number plate conspicuously on the rear end of the motorcycle as stated in Republic Act 4136, or the Land Transportation and Traffic Code.
The design and specifications of motorcycle plates is standardized according to the government guidelines stated in the LTO Memorandum Circular VPT-2013-1772, otherwise known as the Motor Vehicle License Plates Standardization Program (MVLPSP). Through this directive, the LTO implements a new standard alphanumeric series format with two alphabetic and five numerical symbols, AA 12345, for motorcycles. The new plates will also bear new designs, special security bolts, standard size, color, and font to ensure uniformity and visibility on the roads. It is also designed to clamp down on the proliferation of counterfeit, dilapidated, and illegal license plates as the new special LTO plate security bolts have been designed to break when removed or tampered with to prevent transferring of plates to other vehicles.
Where is the Best Place to Display the Number Plate in Motorcycles
There are different arguments about the best placement for the motorcycle plates. Each one comes with benefits of their own.
Arguments for Rear Placement
Many riders prefer to keep the status quo, and simply have the motor plates where they currently are, on the rear end of the motorcycle, for the following reasons:
Consistency with International Standards
Placing the number plate at the rear adheres to global practices, ensuring conformity with international norms and facilitating cross-border recognition.
Law enforcement agencies find it easier to identify and monitor motorcycles when the number plate is positioned at the rear. This helps in maintaining road safety and ensuring compliance with traffic rules.
Aesthetics and Design
Rear placement is often considered more aesthetically pleasing, as it allows for a clean and uncluttered front design of the motorcycle. Many argue that this contributes to a sleeker and more visually appealing look.
Arguments for Front Placement
On the flip side, some lawmakers are becoming concerned with the increasing incidence of motorcycle related crimes tagged as riding-in-tandem, and think that it’s best to add plates on the front side of motorcycles in addition to the one on the rear end. Some of the reasons they cited for wanting to do so include:
Advocates for front placement argue that also having the number plate at the front side of the motorcycle enhances visibility, especially in scenarios where motorcycles approach from the front. This can aid in quick identification by both pedestrians and other drivers.
Some believe that placing the number plate at the front could reduce instances of motorcycles evading authorities by riding with obscured or missing rear plates. This could potentially lead to a decrease in traffic violations.
Quick Response to Incidents
In emergency situations or accidents, front-mounted number plates can assist authorities in identifying involved motorcycles more swiftly, aiding in prompt response and investigation.
The Current Standard: Where Should the Number Plate of a Motorcycle be Displayed
According to Executive Order No. 292, otherwise known as the Administrative Code of 1987 and the United Nations Vienna Convention for Road Traffic of 1968 to which the Philippines is a signatory, and in accordance with Department Order No. 93-693, series of 1992, the number plate of a motorcycle or a scooter must be displayed in conspicuous places and kept clean and firmly affixed to the motor vehicle ln such a manner as will make it entirely visible and legible.
With the enactment of the short-lived Doble Plaka Law, the LTO required readable number plates that are readable from the front, the back, and the side of the motorcycle from a distance of at least fifteen (15) meters for every motorcycle. The law also says that the readable number plates must be displayed in both the front and back sides of a motorcycle, before numerous protests against safety and discrimination towards riders forced the then-President Rodrigo Duterte to halt its enforcement indefinitely.
For now, the law, specifically, the Republic Act 4136, known as the Land Transportation and Traffic Code of the Philippines, requires having the number plates attached on the rear end of the motorcycle. Despite the lack of more specific guidelines as to where and how it should be placed, it is generally attached on the center rear, which on motorcycles is under the brake light. It is also required to keep it visible, readable, and uncovered at all times, so it’s best to keep it clean and firmly attached.
The debate over the ideal location for motorcycle number plates in the Philippines is multi-faceted, involving considerations of international standards, law enforcement efficiency, aesthetics, and visibility. Striking a balance between these factors without making the riders feel like they are being criminalized due to the proliferation of riding-in-tandem crimes is crucial for finding a solution that ensures both safety and compliance while maintaining the unique charm of motorcycles on Philippine roads. As discussions continue, it remains to be seen whether the current rear placement tradition will persist or if the country will embrace a new standard in the years to come. For now, number plates remain on the rear end of the motorcycle, so it’s best to stick those plates on the stock plate holders and avoid trouble with traffic enforcements.