23 April 2010

Presidential Aspirants Promise to Rid Streets of Smoky Vehicles

Quezon City. Seven candidates for the presidency vowed to vigorously enforce the law to rid Metro Manila and other highly urbanized areas of smoke belchers once and for all.

As the celebration of the Earth Day continues, environmentalists welcomed the candidates’ assurance of exercising political will to prevent and reduce vehicular emissions, the main culprit in poor air quality in the metropolis.

“We welcome the candidates’ commitment to enforce the provisions of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and its Implementing Rules and Regulations that seek to remove smoky vehicles off the streets and cut pollution from preventable sources,” said Roy Alvarez, President, EcoWaste Coalition.

“Aside from this, we trust that the next President will also work hard in improving fuel quality, in enforcing the ban against open burning and incineration, and in mainstreaming clean renewable energy sources to stop pollution from coal-fired power plants,” Alvarez added.

For his part, Rene Pineda, President of the Partnership for Clean Air said: "All presidential contenders must be able to articulate and ensure the solution to air pollution. Smoke belching per se is the most visible exceedance of set limits but the unseen ones are also, even if within the limits, the greater part of the pollution level. The 'polluter must pay' principle, therefore, should justifiably apply to all emitters to pay for the cost of depriving citizens innate right to clean air."

The groups cited the government’s latest available National Emission Inventory that points to the transport sector as the major source of air pollution where 65% of pollutants come from mobile sources (vehicles), 21% from stationary sources (power plants, factories, incinerators) and 14 % from area sources (open burning, open cooking, road dust). Government data show national annual motor vehicle registration rising from 4,292,272 in 2004 to 5,530,052 in 2007.

Sen. Noynoy Aquino, Sen. Dick Gordon, Sen. Jamby Madrigal, Sen. Manny Villar, Coun. JC de los Reyes, environmentalist Nicky Perlas and evangelist Eddie Villanueva cited the need for the effective enforcement of the CAA, one of the country’s principal environmental laws, which, among others, set limits for ambient levels of major pollutants, phased out lead in gasoline and banned waste incineration that emits toxic and poisonous fumes.

The presidential candidates made their positions known through the 2010 Green Electoral Initiative (GEI) conducted by the EcoWaste Coalition and Greenpeace. Former Pres. Erap Estrada and former Defense Sec. Gibo Teodoro did not take part in the survey.

Asked why smoke belching in Metro Manila has not been effective despite numerous campaigns, Liberal standard bearer alluded to the problem with enforcement and rule of law, saying that “environmental management and governance still returns to the core principle of honest, trusted leadership.”

Nacionalista candidate Villar, one of the principal authors of CAA, expressed enragement over the “ningas cogon” (grass flash fire) implementation of the law, stressing that “the solution is simple:vigorous and sustained campaign against smoke belching.” Villar
exclaimed: “Tama na ang ningas cogon. We must show the public that when we implement our laws we mean business.”

Bangon Pilipinas runner Villanueva likewise called for an intensified anti-smoke belching through roadside inspection and apprehension of violators. To address the crisis, Villanueva proposed expanding and enhancing the MMDA’s enforcement capacities. “It is also time to promote alternative vehicles and conduct research and development in cooperation with foreign experts on new modes of non-pollutive
transportation.”

To rectify the problem with smoky vehicles, independent bet Madrigal proposed a review of the current permit and standard system being observed in the registration of vehicles that go through the emission testing centers.

For his part, Bagumbayan aspirant Gordon intimated a “leadership by example” to minimize vehicular pollution. “I will regularly go out into the streets with a emission tester in hand, and stop the vehicle myself. My environment and transportation secretaries, and police chief will do the same, and we will do this regularly to drive home the point that we have a law, and we are dead serious about implementing the law.”

Environmentalist Perlas stressed that smoke belching “is a matter of political will and corruption,” adding that his administration will clamp down on smoke belching in Metro Manila in the first 100 days and in other highly urbanized areas within a year.

“Review and implement a working CAA” was the quick reply of Ang Kapatiran Party aspirant Coun. de los Reyes.

EcoWaste Coalition
Unit 329, Eagle Court Condominium
Matalino St., Quezon City
Philippines
+63 2 441-1846
ecowastecoalition@yahoo.com

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