Presumptive president Rodrigo Duterte may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but, politics aside, he will be a godsend to the thousands of peace-loving citizens who are constantly disturbed by the excessive—and possibly harmful—ear-piercing racket from bora bora—motorbikes with modified or no mufflers at all.
It seems the good mayor is also a man who likes peace and quiet and I hear he also has an intense disliking of this form of noise pollution. That’s great news because judging by his past record, he’s actually likely to do something about it, rather than let it slide as so many city officials around the country have done.
Last year, Mayor Duterte impounded more than 200 motorbikes in Davao City with modified mufflers.
Duterte told desolate bike owners “What you put there [modified muffler] is not allowed by law. You cannot change it to make noise. If you replace [the muffler] you start to make noise. During night time you disturb your fellowmen.” He added that the impounding was not a traffic violation, but “confiscation based on nuisance law.”
Nuisance is specified in the Civil Code of the Philippines Book 2: Property, Ownership and Its Modifications— all motorcycles with noisy, loud and modified mufflers or piping are being confiscated under this law.
According to law, it in fact states—Title VIII Article 694 nuisance “is any act, omission, establishment, business, condition of property, or anything else which (1) injures or endangers the health and safety of others; (2) annoys or offends the senses.”
Duterte was adamant: “Noise is a pollutant, it destroys the hearing of the people. It disturbs the public peace. It’s unlawful and by law I am allowed to abate that nuisance.”
This is great stuff, but if Mayor Duterte can implement the law in Davao City, why are mayors and local government officials elsewhere not following suit. No doubt, many don’t want to lose votes, but long-suffering citizens hope that with a strong man at the helm, there will be a change of heart which means peace-loving people can get some sleep and not be woken up at 3 a.m. by anti-social numskulls on their noisy bikes.
Except for Davao City, bora bora seems to be a national problem.
Take Cebu for example. Late last year a lawyer and an anti-noise pollution advocate asked if the city had been “faithfully implementing the anti-modified muffler ordinance of 2013 given the proliferation of the use of modified mufflers.”
Yes, you’ve guessed it. Two years after the ordinance was approved, traffic authorities haven’t enforced it. One Cebu resident suggested law enforcers should also go after distributors of the mufflers as well as the bikers. It’s estimated that 50 percent of motorbikes in Cebu have modified mufflers.
Even tourists, shocked by the extraordinarily high levels of noise pollution from bikes, have taken to the internet to ask why the authorities seem oblivious to the problem.
One can only hope that now things will change. It’s obviously not a top priority as Duterte forms his administration, but many are confident he’ll get round to it sooner or later—preferably sooner.
Robert Harland is a British national based in Bacolod City.