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Pililla LGU to press charges vs. bike race organizer for drawing record crowds

By Bim Santos Published Feb 15, 2021 2:06 am Updated Feb 15, 2021 4:29 am

The local government of Pililla, Rizal is intent on pressing charges against the organizer of a Valentine’s day bike race held in an adjacent town after a large number of people spilled over their jurisdiction, thereby violating regulations against public gathering during the pandemic.

"We are consolidating the documents now and we will go after them para hindi na maulit,” John Masinsin, executive assistant to the Pililla mayor’s office, told PhilSTAR L!fe.

Masinsin was referring to the Giro de San Valentin bike race organized by Team Pogi Bike Shop held last Feb. 14 in the municipality of Jala-jala, Rizal and Mabitac, Laguna. Jala-jala is just beside Pililla.

Masinsin said the race organizers initially approached them three times to hold the race start in their municipality, but they declined the request as it will violate local and national regulations against public gatherings. In the promotional poster of the event that is still up in some Facebook cycling groups, the route still includes Pililla.

“They were rejected na before. Inexplain na namin sa kanila na we don’t want large groups of people for the sole reason na pandemic pa rin eh. Kaya we had to give them a definitive ‘no’ on those three occasions” Masinsin said.

The promo poster earlier released indicated Pililla in the race route 

But though the race was officially held outside of their area, Masinsin said that they were still affected as a large volume of people spilled over their town. Some traffic volunteers, according to Masinsin, were informed the day before that the crowd turnout, originally estimated at 300, ballooned to 700.

“The rules against large gatherings are clearly stipulated even sa local ordinances namin. Now we are trying to reach out sa IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) para mahabol namin yung organizers ng event at makita ano pa yung penalties,” said Masinsin.

Masinsin said some residents reached out to them after they were surprised and even scared after seeing large crowds last Sunday. Masinsin also noted that they are extra protective of their COVID-19 situation as they currently have no cases of local transmission, and have one of the lowest numbers in Rizal.

The municipalities of Pililla and Jala-jala in the eastern area of Rizal are just next to each other

“Para saan pa ‘yung effort natin to try to protect the people kung i-di-disregard lang naman blatantly ang rules?” said Masinsin. “Parang ang nangyari dito naging ‘moro-moro’ na race.”

“We are not against bikers. Before the pandemic lagi kaming may event for them. But we can’t just ignore this,” said Masinsin.

A "glitch"
Jay Alvarez, owner of Team Pogi Bike Shop, maintained that they were not remiss in organizing the event as he already excluded Pililla from the race route.

“Wala naman karera sa Pililla, dumaan lang naman. Wala akong ginawang kabaluktutan,” Alvarez told PhilSTAR L!fe in a separate interview.

He said that the trophies still indicated Pililla as they had it made before securing approval, and it was too late to have it changed when the LGU declined their request.

He, however, maintained that there was a “glitch” after a number of people converged after the event in a popular eatery frequented by cyclists thinking there was an awarding.

“Ang plano namin wala na talaga awarding, to follow na lang. Pero nakita nung ilang cyclists yung trophy, then pagdating ng mga pulis akala nila nag-a-awarding kami,” Alvarez said. “Maliit na glitch lang naman. Pagdating ng mga pulis walang pang five minutes umalis na kami agad.”

Alvarez said there were around 30 people when the incident happened in the eatery, which he noted is a private area.

Gil Bugaoisan, a participant in the race, also told PhilSTAR L!fe that organizers repeatedly asked spectators and other non-participants to disperse during the event.

“Ang naging problema sobrang daming tao na nag-usyoso. Kasi ang instruction naman malinaw na pagkatapos mag-race uwi na, they were even announcing it. But ang naging problema talaga ang daming matitigas ang ulo na nag-mimiron. Halos maiyak-iyak na yung organizers na nakikiusap sa microphone, pero dineadma lang,” said Bugaoisan.

Race marshals
Alvarez said their race marshals also failed to manage the crowd.

“Hindi sa sinisiraan ko yung mga marshal sa Pililla, pero hindi rin nila na-control yung crowd eh. Hindi ako yung kupal na taong pabaya, kaso hindi rin nila na-control kaya medyo masama yung loob ko, pero nagbayad pa rin ako. Hindi naman ako negligent on my part,” said Alvarez.

Ang gusto ko lang naman mabalik yung sigla ng karera in the safest manner kaya sinimulan ko lang.

Asked about the plan of the Pililla LGU to go after him, Alvarez said he is ready to talk and, if push comes to shove, face the consequences of the incident.

“Wala akong ibang sasabihin kundi patawad sa nangyari. Kung anuman, hindi na kami magpapakarera sa ngayon. Kung itutuloy man nila (ang kaso), haharapin ko na lang,” he said.

“Sa side ko kasi bilang bike shop owner, ang gusto ko lang naman mabalik yung sigla ng karera in the safest manner kaya sinimulan ko lang,” Alvarez added.

(Banner photo from Benok Adventure YouTube page)