The Court of Appeals has nullified for being unconstitutional the motorcycle riding-in-tandem ordinances issued by Mandaluyong City, which prohibits two unrelated males from riding a motorcycle.
In a 27-page decision, the CA’s Fifth Division through Associate Justice Raymond Reynold Lauigan granted the petition filed by Angkas rider Dino de Leon seeking to enjoin the Office of the City Prosecutor of Mandaluyong City from prosecuting him for violation of Ordinance Nos. 550 S-2014, 595 S-2015, and 694 S-2018, also known as the Motorcycle Riding-in-Tandem Ordinances.
The CA reversed the ruling issued by the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court on July 1, 2020, which dismissed his petition assailing the constitutionality of the said ordinances.
“A more extensive review by this Court shows that the subject ordinances are unconstitutional because they also violate the Rule on Equal Protection,” the appellate court ruled.
In his petition before the appellate court, De Leon argued that the Mandaluyong City government gravely abused its police power when it issued the said ordinances.
He said the ordinances violated the equal protection clause as these discriminate based solely on sex without sufficient justification as to why such a sexist policy is a valid classification and generalizing that those sharing motorcycles would commit “riding-in-tandem” crimes
Besides, De Leon said the ordinances constitute arbitrary constraints without reasonable basis and are oppressive.
In ruling against the local government, the CA did not give credence to the argument of the Mandaluyong City government that the issue is now moot and academic due to the suspension of the said ordinances during the community quarantine period.
The appellate court noted that the suspension of the assailed ordinances is merely temporary and that the city government may reimpose them anew, thus, the need to resolve the petition based on its merits.
The CA held that the prohibition against male back riders “is an oppressive measure.”
The appellate court stressed that the ordinances went beyond what is reasonably necessary” to accomplish its objective, which is to suppress lawlessness and violence.
“The prohibition is oppressive because it arbitrarily limits the movement and mode of transportation of male back riders even though there is no direct link or available statistical data presented before the trial court to show that motorcycle riding criminals are males, and as such, the imposition of the prohibition is reasonably necessary to curtail the rate of criminality within the City of Mandaluyong,” the CA emphasized.
The CA also noted that the city government failed to prove that there are no other less restrictive measures available to curb disorder and violence.
“Further, the City Government of Mandaluyong also failed to prove that the enactment and implementation of the subject ordinances are fair, not discriminatory, and not unreasonable,” the CA said.
“Verily, the ordinances are purely discriminatory to the class belonging to a male back rider, unless he is a relative within the first degree of consanguinity or a child between 7 to 10 years of age, even though there is no evidence which would support the reason why the prohibition was imposed on such class of persons in the first place,” it added.
According to the appellate court, the equal protection clause under the Constitution requires that all persons or things similarly situated be treated alike.