Press Release
August 9, 2022

Senator Pia's interpellation on Senator JV Ejercito's privilege speech about the future of PH's railway system

Mr. President, I have many things in common with the gentleman from San Juan: we are both bikers, not big bikes, but the one that you need to exert effort to move forward, road bike and mountain bike. And I thought his speech was going to be about how he got fitter by biking, so I also congratulate you for that, visiting the provinces, trying out the different delicacies, and giving us some, and we await more.

But let me go to the meat of his privilege speech, which is basically on sustainable transportation. Over 10 years ago, I filed the Sustainable Transportation Bill, and by this time, there's at least maybe a third of the members of the Senate who filed, if not an identical, a similar bill. I did this [bill] with Tony Oposa, whose daughter was here as a TOYM awardee, and also is a TOYM awardee.

This bill was referred to the Committee on Sustainable Development, which I chair. So I would be happy, your honor. Of course it depends on the Rules Committee and where his honor, the gentleman would like it to be referred. But insofar as sustainability is concerned, I am prepared to call a hearing. It will be my first hearing after the organizational meeting on sustainable transportation, and I don't think the gentleman included it in his speech, but he also filed a measure similar to my bill, which was passed on third reading in the Senate [in the 18th Congress]. So those will already be heard by this Committee, your honor, and anything that has to do with sustainability, I will be happy to move it forward. I won't encroach on the other issues, like yung timelines ng mga project, but in terms of looking into the future, that is something that our committee is very committed to look into. So I was very impressed with his honor's bill on the masterplan because, really, whatever we do today should be something that prepares our next generation, yung mga apo na natin, mga great grandchildren natin, that they will be able to use this, hindi parang kotse na kailangan palitan, sabi nga after 3 years palit. Ako hindi naman ako nagpapalit after 3 years, pero you know like the train systems that we see in Europe and other countries, deka-dekada buhay pa.

I am just saying this in one go then will ask the gentleman for a quick response. So yes, I am a big believer of the railway system, and let me end by saying I also have a toy train collection, probably not as elaborate and high tech as his honor's, but I actually used to be the distributor of Thomas the Tank, so cute, yes. In my early days as a lawyer, I was an entrepreneur as well, and I got the distributorship of Thomas the Tank, the wooden version. So we even had a table where you move it around. Anyway, my children have had many happy hours and I used to own a toy store, and that was a hit because I put the demo toys there and the kids would just come and play with it. Minsan may bumibili, minsan wala, so at least happy ang mga bata. So we're also the same on that.

On addressing Climate Change

May I just add, when his honor mentioned that this [railway system] would be a partial solution to climate change issues, just today, I read that there is now evidence that shows that climate change directly affects our health, not just because of the pollution, which is what we kinda think of when we think of outdated transportation and non-sustainable transportation. We know that the air pollution that this causes has a direct effect on health, like lung health. So again, that's something that the train system can address. But I am referring to ailments including the rise in ailments like malaria, other infectious diseases, your honor, caused by bacteria or viruses.

They said that hundreds of years ago, people would associate weather with health. But now, it is proven that climate change has an impact on viruses and bacteria that affect us, how it has made certain illnesses come back with a vengeance. So I just wanted to mention this because it just shows how everything is interrelated, how our choice of transportation, our business decisions, would affect our health ultimately, and I know that that is also his honor's advocacy. Thank you.

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