Tuesday, June 30, 2009

New Face Of Clean Air

Dear Me,

Last June 23rd marked the 10th year implementation of
Republic Act 8749 or more commonly known as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

Even without proof of scientific studies, I think most of us will say that the level of air pollution in the cities especially in Metro Manila has absolutely deteriorated. I, for one, have noticed how lots of motor vehicles emit a very large volume of poisonous and toxic fumes.

Former Philippine President
Joseph Estrada signed the Philippine Clean Air Act into law on June 23, 1999. An extensive air quality management program, this law targets to combat the growing air pollution problem by utilizing a national development plan formulated by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Ten years has passed since its implementation. I wonder how are we faring in this battle for a clean and green life.

In celebration of the 10th anniversary of the
Philippine Clean Air Act, the "Clean Air 10 Declaration" was drafted as they declare ten-point actions.

  1. We urge the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to create a multi-stakeholder committee to improve information dissemination on clean air technologies by creating and maintaining a database of the technologies verified by relevant government agencies which is readily accessible to the public.

  2. We urge the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Department of Transport and Communications (DOTC), Department of Education (DepEd), Department of Health (DOH), Philippine Information Agency (PIA), Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), DOST, other concerned government agencies, and media to come up with a general direction and strategy including core messages to be communicated nationwide (e.g., the quality of air that people breathe, all sources and impacts of air pollution, solutions to reduce air pollution) and a scientific, systematic, target-specific and sustainable monitoring and evaluation system for the clean air and climate change campaign.

  3. We urge the heightened collaboration of the private sector, particularly multi-media groups, malls/stores, mass transit systems, to provide free avenues for promoting the clean air and climate change campaigns, as well as professional groups, academe and church-based organizations, to volunteer technical skills for information dissemination and capacity-building aspects of the campaign.

  4. We urge the DILG, the League of Cities of the Philippines (LCP), the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), and the League of Provinces of the Philippines (LPP), in the short-term, to encourage local government units (LGU)s to designate Environment and Natural Resources Officers (ENROs) and establish Anti-Smoke Belching Units (ASBUs) or other positions to implement clean air and climate change programs and projects and, in the long-term, to support the amendment of the Local Government Code to make the ENRO position mandatory.

  5. We urge the DENR, DOTC, DILG, Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), Local Government Academy (LGA), LGUs, the academe and other expert groups, to organize technical trainings (e.g., assessing air quality status of the airshed, determining appropriate policy measures to reduce air pollution, engaging stakeholders in planning, regular reporting to the public, translating these measures at the barangay level), and provide logistical support (e.g., emission testing equipment) to airshed governing boards and LGUs.

  6. We strongly request the TESDA, the LGUs, engine manufacturers (e.g., Motorcycle Development Program Participants Association, MDPPA), NGOs, and local experts to institutionalize technical training of operators, drivers and mechanics/service centers on emission control measures (e.g., preventive maintenance, eco-driving) and explore with other concerned government agencies the possibility of providing an incentive and penalty system that will encourage clean air compliance and discourage smoke belchers (e.g., mandating preventive maintenance training as requirement for issuance of permit to operate).

  7. We urge all national government agencies and LGUs to strengthen implementation by strictly enforcing the provisions of the Clean Air Act, especially anti-smoke belching campaign, ban on smoking in public places and incineration ban and the provisions of RA 9003 (Ecological Solid Waste Management Act) on open burning; to issue the appropriate executive orders and enact the necessary ordinances to address the policy gaps (e.g., control of tricycle franchises issued by LGUs, widen and strengthen roadside apprehensions (on smoke-belching) of Land Transport Office (LTO)-deputized groups, penalizing idling of vehicles, encourage non-motorized and non-polluting modes of transport) and to make regular reports to the public of these actions taken.

  8. We urge the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) and Department of Finance (DOF) to hasten the release of funds intended for clean air programs and encourage the LGUs to tap existing government funds already provided by law such as:

    a) The Road Users' Tax, which mandates a 7.5 percent allocation for road transport pollution control programs like the current Special Vehicle Pollution Control Fund (SPVCF) with the DOTC. Tap the same road users’ to create a proposed TricyCLEAN fund for the tricycle sector which also contributes substantially to the fund.

    b) Extended Value Added Tax (EVAT) share of LGUs, of which 15 percent is mandated to be spent on environmental projects as it is provided under Section 21-D of R.A. 9337, also known as the EVAT law)

  9. We urge Local Government Units (LGUs) to create their own local or counterpart 'Air Quality Management Fund' (AQMF), which they may call as the Clean Air Fund for the Environment (CAFÉ). This fund can easily be computed based on corresponding health impact cost over fuel consumption per locality. We also urge both Houses of Congress to amend the CAA provision on the AQMF to make it a revolving fund which is more readily accessible for use to implement clean air programs and projects and to also strengthen their oversight function.

  10. We urge the oil companies and related industries, which directly or indirectly contribute to air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, to institutionalize their support to clean air and climate change actions by committing to the following:

    a) In consultation with the transport sector, redirect the fuel price discounts, which they already grant voluntarily to the transport sector, into a special fund to finance various clean air initiatives and programs of the transport sector;

    b) Support a carbon tax or environmental tax on their fuel and other products to fund clean air programs, research and GHG-reduction initiatives such as adoption of clean technologies, reforestation, mangroves and coral reef rehabilitation, and clean air enforcement and monitoring projects (i.e., smoke belching, Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS), emission testing, empowering Airshed Governing Boards, checking other pollution sources like pesticide etc.) Support for these economic instruments is in line with globally-accepted principles such as the Polluters’ Pay Principle (PPP), Extended Producers’ Responsibility (EPR), and the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

    We further commit to the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) of the Clean Air 10 actions; to urge relevant organizations to regularly report their progress; and, to disseminate these M&E reports; as well as to urge other government agencies, organizations, sectors, communities, and individuals to sign this Declaration and implement their own sector/area-specific or personal Clean Air 10 actions.

The realization of living in a clean and smoke-free environment is not far from happening as we enjoin the rest of the country in acting out our growing appreciation towards the environment.

Sign the petition to support the Clean Air 10 Declaration!

Acting out such need is tantamount in making the general public aware and let them understand the outright impact of air pollution in the domestic and global level.

In this regard, Ligtas Hangin, a social advocacy campaign was launched last June 23, 2009. Spearheaded by Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia) Center, this campaign aims to assist the government and other concerned groups in renewing and revitalizing its bid in enhancing air quality.
Upholding core values:
  • recognizing the right to breathe clean, healthy air

  • believing that open, transparent and peaceful dialogue can effect real change

  • acknowledging that win-win solutions do exist

  • aligning activities to support better air quality in the Philippines

  • spreading the word about Ligtas Hangin

Do you really care for the environment? Join the Ligtas Hangin campaign. It is free and open to individuals and organizations that share the campaign's core values.

Visit the Ligtas Hangin website for more information.

PS. As a mother, I would like to have cleaner air to breathe for my children and their children.


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