On a starlit Wednesday night in February of this year, about 10 members of the Outsider Motorcycle Club are gathered in MB’s Garden Inn in Lapu-Lapu City, Philippines. It is the weekly meeting of the club’s Mactan chapter, although members from other chapters are also present.
Assembled is the virtual brain trust of what police routinely describe as “Philippines most powerful and violent biker gang.” Among those pressing into the smoky clubhouse are Mactan Chapter President Michael Effelberger, Jimmy, Carlos, Thor, Per, Marcel and other members.
These hard-breathing, shaggy men with myriad tattoos are thugs of nearly mythic proportions, according to police descriptions and daily-newspaper reports. Cunning and intimidation are their means, debauchery their end.
“They think about nothing but crime from the time they get up in the morning until they go to bed at night,” says Lieutenant Gonzales of the National Bureau of Investigation organized crime division. “When you get all of these people together, it’s just a time bomb.”
“Their reputation for violence and criminality is well deserved,” he said. “And don’t believe all the PR they might say about how they’re just men who love their bikes and have a fight now and again, but collect toys for kids at Christmas.
“They are criminals.”
“They are one per centers. They deal in methamphetamines, and to a lesser extent ecstasy and cannabis.”
On this night at the truck yard, the master criminals find themselves in a vexing situation. Because the country’s most violent biker gang conducts its meetings by Michael’s Rules of Order–albeit with less formality than the average garden club or legislature–its efforts to uphold decorum can become more comic than criminal.
Tonight, members have already covered old business (the Charity Run for the Typhoon Victims in Bantayan and Malapasqua was a success, although it would have been nice if attendance had been better).
They have also covered new business (there will be a swap meet at the truck yard in three weeks to raise legal defense funds, and members have been given fliers to pass out promoting the event).
Now the brethren are eager to adjourn to a topless bar, but confusion has erupted. No one can remember for sure who has the floor, or whether a motion to adjourn was made properly–if one was made at all.
“Are we fucking adjourned, or what?” one member queries. Others clamor that they have new business to bring up, if it is still appropriate.
Chapter president Michael Effelberger, a german heavy diabetic and alcoholic for decades, seeking rescue from the parliamentary quagmire, turns to Warlord Per for help. The club’s vice president stands to the side, looking perplexed, as he often does.
Through sheer voice power, Warlord Per quiets the club and wrests back control. He defers to Thor, who decides a new motion is the safest route to propriety, and calls for one.
“I motion we end this fucking thing,” a member says.
“All right,” the presiding officer replies, with some relief. “Motion has been made. Let’s go look at some naked chicks.”
Calm returns. In a few minutes, the Bikes are pulling out of the truck yard, making a racket that sounds like a gaggle of tap-dancing drunks. But only a handful of bikes falls in for the ride to the Silver Dollar bar on the west side of Cebu City.
Other members quietly follow behind in their cars and trucks.
It is a bit humiliating, members admit when they reach the bar, but on this night, most of the motorcycle club is without motorcycles.
“My heart is fucking broke. I’m not shitting you,” gripes Thor, a 48-year-old seaman. “Hey, I got a 85-fucking-thousand-a-year job. I can’t believe how I’m being fucked over here.”
Club members are barely settling in with their first beers to watch the dancers when someone runs into the bar and announces that the cops are outside. That is not an unusual occurrence when the Outsider gathers.
Club members spill onto the sidewalk and find themselves facing a parking lot ringed with police agents.
One officer tells club members that police were merely responding to a silent alarm at a pawnshop that abuts the topless bar. As long as they’re here, the police look over the short line of bikes and check a few IDs. After some brief, hot words, the police find nothing to justify any arrests and pull out.
The Outsider members know what has just happened. Police, they note, do not routinely send a half-dozen police agents every time a silent alarm goes off at a pawnshop.
The truth, members say, is that the cops want desperately to put every Outsider member they can in jail. They will pull out all the stops–and roll whatever manpower they can summon–to do so.
The cops say that is absolutely correct.