Press Release
January 1, 2010

Villar to Congress: Formulate 'green transport policy'

Sen. Manny Villar yesterday said the people deserve better air quality this coming year as he pressed his colleagues in Congress to come up with legislation that would institutionalize on a nationwide scale a "green transport policy" in light of the worsening level of air pollution in the country.

"What better way to start off the new year than to assure our fellowmen that we as legislators are doing something to improve the air quality in our cities. The alarming levels of air pollution in our cities are not only slowly killing millions of our fellow Filipinos, but they also cost our economy billions of pesos in productivity losses and health care expenses," Villar, Nacionalista Party president and standard-bearer, said in a statement.

"And studies show that vehicle emission is one of the top contributors to air pollution. This is why we should institutionalize an environmentally-sound and feasible legislative policy that would govern the transportation sector to minimize if not eradicate vehicular emissions."

Villar explained his position in Resolution No. 1501, which he filed late 2009, urging the Senate Committees on Environment and on Public Services to conduct a study on the need to come up with a Green Transport Policy.

Among his proposals include, but are not limited to, the promotion and construction of bicycle lanes and parking slots; the establishment of additional road traffic safety zones; and a stricter enforcement of traffic laws.

"Some cities, especially in Metro Manila, already have bicycle lanes to promote an emission-less lifestyle. Congress can compel cities and other urban areas to do the same as a matter of national policy," Villar said.

"And we have laws, like the Clean Air Act, that if implemented properly will greatly help reduce air pollution, like strictly applying emission standards and imposing the right penalties for violators."

The senator said that according to a recent World Bank (WB) country environmental analysis (CEA), around 1.5 million Filipinos of varying ages are afflicted with respiratory sickness annually due to outdoor air pollution (OAP) in urban areas.

Villar also noted that the World Health Organization ranks urban outdoor air pollution as the 13th greatest contributor to disease burden and death worldwide.

He added that another WB report on the Philippines indicates that air pollution-related illnesses alone are costing the economy P950 million annually, including productivity loss which is income and time loss due to absence from work and household activities, and P360 million for personal costs for treatment of disease;

"A Green Transport Policy also covers increased investments in mass transport systems which would greatly ease the use of private vehicles in urban areas," Villar said.

He also called on owners of private vehicles, particularly that of motorcycles and tricycles, to practice preventive maintenance in order to reduce emissions.

According to government data, motorcycles and tricycles have outnumbered private cars as the second-largest group of vehicles on Philippine roads after public utility vehicles since 1994. Also, 2001 figures place the said vehicle class of comprising 35 percent of the registered vehicles in that year, while cars only accounted for 19 percent.

Villar said simple maintenance habits such as the use of quality 2T oils, adoption of harmonized fuel quality standards such as Euro 4 and providing subsidies or loans for people to convert their two-stroke engines to liquefied petroleum gas could go a long way in bringing down the levels of air pollution in urban areas.

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