Senate okays bills on motorcycle crime prevention, free irrigation services

MANILA — The Senate on Tuesday approved two measures — the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017 and the Free Irrigation Service to Small Farmers Act of 2017 — on third and final reading.

With 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention, the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Act of 2017, (SBN 1397), was approved.

The measure, authored by Senator Richard Gordon and Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, requires motorcycles and scooters to have bigger license plates for easy identification to prevent motorcycle riding criminals from easily getting away after committing a crime.

Under the measure, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) is mandated to issue bigger and reflectorized plate numbers which must be placed in both front and rear parts of the motorcycle. The plate numbers should be big enough to be readable from a distance of between 12 to 15 meters.

The LTO is also mandated to devise a color scheme of the plate numbers for every region to easily identify where such motorcycle was registered, together with an alphanumeric system for easier identification and recollection by the general public.

Driving without a plate number is prohibited and shall be punishable by four months and one day up to two years and four months or a fine of not less than PHP50,000 but not more than PHP100,000, or both.

“By increasing the size and visibility of the motorcycle plates to be able to read the plate numbers from a distance, witnesses and law enforcement agencies are aided in the identification of motorcycle riders who are involved in accidents or criminal activities,” Gordon said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the Free Irrigation Service to Small Farmers Act of 2017 (SBN 1465) was also approved with 21 affirmative votes, zero negative vote, and no abstention.

The measure, sponsored by Senator Cynthia Villar, seeks to exempt small farmers from paying irrigation services in a bid to increase income, hasten productivity and reduce production costs in farms nationwide.

Under the bill, small farmers are “exempted from paying irrigation service fees (ISF) for water derived from national irrigation systems (NIS) and communal irrigation systems (CIS) that were funded, constructed, maintained and administered by the National Irrigation Administration (NIA) and other government agencies.”

In addition to funds provided by the national government, the unpaid irrigation service fees of farmers with more than five hectares of land, and service fees from non-exempt farmers and other persons, natural or juridical, drawing water from agricultural and non-agricultural purposes, or using CISs as drainage facilities, “shall be collected, retained and used by irrigators associations to operate, maintain and repair their respective CISs.”

Villar said that this would help “make free irrigation a policy, and institutionalize it to make it more permanent.”

“Filipino farmers and fisherfolk are still among the poorest in the country and freeing farmers from the burden of paying irrigation service fees will significantly reduce production cost, hasten productivity and increase the income of farmers,” Villar said. Azer Parrocha/