• The scourge of ‘bora-bora’ motorbikes

    Atty. Dodo Dulay

    Atty. Dodo Dulay

    One of the many Davao rules that went national soon after the Duterte administration took over is the regulation of late night karaoke sessions, especially in tightly-packed residential communities.

    Another Davao rule that ought to go national is the existing ban on noisy, loud, or ear-piercing modified mufflers (commonly known as “bora-bora” in the Visayas and Mindanao) on motorcycles. Bora-bora motorbikes have become a national irritant, a plague that has infected many towns and cities, both large and small, in Luzon all the way down to Mindanao.

    It’s no secret that bora-bora motorcycles are one of the pet peeves of President Rodrigo Duterte. After his ambush interview was rudely interrupted by a passing motorcycle with its ear-splitting muffler sound, Duterte quipped: “You know, if this was in Davao, I would have beaten him with a pipe. We do not have it in Davao. Even I who own a big motorbike, bought a new [muffler]. I prohibit modified mufflers. Those idiots [with modified mufflers]can wake up even the dead.”

    Last year, when Duterte was still mayor of Davao City, he ordered some 200 motorcycles with modified mufflers impounded. “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 nighttime you disturb your fellowmen,” Duterte explained. “It is not a traffic violation, I am ordering the confiscation based on nuisance law,” he added.

    Many Filipinos are hoping that the Davao crackdown be replicated in all urban centers around the country. In Metro Manila, for instance, only Makati City and Taguig City have effectively enforced a ban on motorcycles with modified mufflers. The other cities have barely taken action to control this auditory plague, and it’s definitely not for lack of laws or ordinances.

    Truth is, there’s a very long list of noise pollution laws that prohibit the operation of bora-bora motorbikes on our streets. There is PD 1152 (or the Philippine Environmental Code), a Marcos-era decree, whose implementing rules state that, “No person shall cause or permit the discharge into the open air of the exhaust of any steam engine, diesel engine, internal combustion engine, turbine engine or similar device, so as to create unnecessary noise in excess of 90 decibels measured on acceleration at 10 meters’ distance.”

    An Asian Development Bank (ADB) study showed that the tailpipe (or muffler) noise from bora-bora tricycles produce noise levels of from 97 to as high as 110 decibels, which is as loud as thunder, a dance club or a rock-and-roll band. That’s not an exaggeration. We’ve been awakened from deep sleep at 3:00 a.m. more than once by these pests-on-wheels.

    Another law, RA 8749, also known as the “Philippine Clean Air Act” also requires national and local government agencies to regulate and control “emissions of unwanted sound of a known source passed into the atmosphere,” such as the loud racket produced by bora-bora motorbikes.

    There are anti-modified muffler ordinances in many municipalities and cities all over the country such as in Pasig, Marikina, San Juan, Cebu, Boracay, Tagum, etc. Unfortunately, these ordinances are honored more in the breach than in the observance.

    Judging from social media posts, one of the most rampant violators of this bora-bora ordinance are motorcycle and tricycle owners in Pasig City whose multi-term mayor, Bobby Eusebio, is being bashed by netizens for failing stop the proliferation of motorbikes with modified mufflers.

    Pasig’s City Ordinance No. 01-S2004, for instance, prohibits the operation of a motor vehicle on a street “unless such a motor vehicle is equipped at all times, with a muffler or mufflers in constant operation and of sufficient capacity for the motor, and equipped with an exhaust system to prevent the escape of excessive fumes or smoke and unusual noise.”

    A netizen even posted a picture of the signage of the Traffic and Parking Management Office (TPMO) of Pasig that says “Notice to the Public, City Ordinance No. 01-S2004, Article XV section 85, OPEN MUFFLERS OF MOTORCYCLE IS STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Please obey the traffic rules and regulations.”

    But the ordinance or notice didn’t seem to scare anyone. Bloggers point out that Pasig’s traffic enforcers, or “Blue Boys” as they are commonly known, barely make any effort to accost or apprehend violators of the modified muffler ban.

    In our neighborhood of Kapitolyo, public-utility tricycles with modified mufflers run amuck on our streets at all hours of the day and night, wreaking havoc on our senses. And to think that it is the Pasig City government that regulates and issues the franchise for these tricycles. The indifference of Pasig City officials to this nuisance has emboldened privately owned bora-bora motorbikes to follow suit.

    But if the local government officials cannot even enforce the law or its own ordinance, how can ordinary citizens expect the lowly traffic enforcer to crack down on violators? No wonder bora-bora motorcycles have multiplied like rabbits on our streets. Perhaps this also explains why the business of “pimping” motorcycles with modified mufflers has been very brisk.

    This bora-bora problem is bound to get worse, especially with the Philippines becoming the fastest growing market in the massive South Asian region, recording a massive 40.2 percent growth in the first five months of this year alone, according to statistics released by the Asean Automotive Federation.

    With LGUs practically inutile at stopping this noise-polluting nuisance, both Land Transportation Office (LTO) chief Edgar Galivanted and Environment Secretary Gina Lopez should step up to the plate and implement Detente’s admonition for “everyone to follow the law,” be it the anti-noise pollution law or nuisance law.

    A very Merry Christmas to all our loyal readers!


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    1. These bikers ride their bikes to show off!
      Filipino traits. Kayabangan!
      They want to be noticed.
      If you have a big bike and modified the muffler to sound macho, sikat ka!

    2. What about the ingrained culture of all vehicle drivers, particularly bus and truck drivers blasting their horn at all times regardless of the vicinity of residential areas nearby. The MMDA plan to open private gated communities to the general driving population to reduce traffic is going to be a nightmare.

    3. we as a nation do not have shortage of laws in everything, problem is on implementation ….. i hope PDU30 will make it nationwide to ban the modified muffler that creates an NC (sound) level above that set by laws.

    4. Its not just the noise which is a public nuisance, but the bikes themselves. Many are so called chop chop, made up of parts scavenged and not registered or insured. In my City of San Carlos, these usually emerge at night with no lights when the traffic aides have long since gone home.

    5. Taga Pasig din ako. May ordinansa nga, di naman pinapatupad. Etong mga kapitbahay ko na lang sa Northwood Village e. Ang iingay ng mga bwisit na motor. Ang mas lalong nakakabwisit pa dyan, ‘pag nagn-bike ka, bumubuga sa mukha mo yung tambutso nila pag nasa likod ka nila.

    6. I volunteer to include in your list of cities failing to implement the anti-noise pollution law Batangas City. Shall the people in charge wait until citizens’ tolerate level exceeds the border and explode into rage with a bolo or bala?

    7. Bart Balonkita on

      Yes, and with outrage to those morons pretending to be with hearing difficulty. A culture of impunity, indeed, if I may add. Thank you for addressing the matter.