Cotabato ‘no helmet’ policy spawns chaos

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COTABATO CITY: Motorists here are demanding relief from confusion wrought by the enforcement of “no helmet” policy by security establishments in contrast to an existing national regulation mandating the wearing of headgears in public thoroughfares.

Dozens of motorcycle drivers took turns lately in airing their grievances through media entities here, complaining about their dilemma in the conflicting sanctions of Task Force Kutawato’s (TFK’s) police and Marine contingents and traffic enforcers of the Land Transportation Office (LTO).

“My driver’s license was confiscated by an LTO traffic enforcer stationed as a busy road in the city for not wearing helmet. A few meters away, Marine soldiers flagged me down and warned to detain me if they catch me wearing helmet again,” a lowly government worker driving a motorcycle lamented in Pilipino.

The complaining, who asked not to be named, said dozens of other motorcycle drivers met similar fate last Wednesday.


“Which are we going to follow, the Task Force’s policy or the LTO law?” the anxious driver asked.

On Thursday, the city police and the Marine Battalion Landing Team 1 composing the TFK exhorted local LTO officials to tone down the helmet-wearing requirement for the security benefit of majority people in the city.

TFK and city hall officials started imposing the “no helmet” scheme among other security measures after the August 5 car bomb blast that killed eight people and wounded 30 others at a busy junction here

City Police Director Sr. Supt. Rolen Balquin protested the local LTO agents’ defiance of the security policy, stressing that “the best thing to do now is for us and officials of LTO to sit down and talk about that.”

“No disrespect meant. We don’t intend to circumvent a national law, which requires motorcyclists to wear protective crash helmets. We just want protection for the public,” Balquin told journalists.

Balquin invoked police records there were about 90 percent of the shooting incidents here in previous months involving mostly motorists wearing helmets as perpetrators.

More than 200 people were killed by guns-for-hire in a spate of shooting incidents in past three years, including a prosecutor and other local prominent government officials, it was learned.

“Motorists can be directed to drive slowly while in the city because they are asked not to wear helmets. They can wear their helmets when they are out of the city. We need to talk this out with enforcers in the LTO,” Balquin said.

A source from the regional LTO office here said the agency’s officials were consulting their central office about the issue and would relay to the task force the result of the referral.

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