Drivers ask gov’t to level its smoke-belching ordinance with Philippine reality

By ALDWIN QUITASOL
Northern Dispatch

BAGUIO CITY – The Pagkakaisa ng mga Samahan ng Tsuper at Opereytor Nationwide-Metro Baguio chapter (Piston-MB) requests the city council to revise its implementation of clean air ordinance.

Piston-MB president Carlito Wayas clarified that they are not against the Clean Air Act or the city’s clean air ordinance. What they are questioning, he said, is the government’s passing on its obligation for the said act by merely imposing several expensive fees to drivers.

Wayas said that while they as drivers and operators have responsibilities to maintain their vehicles and ensure that they contribute little to no air pollution, the city government has the greater job of pushing measures to maintain a clean and sound environment.

“We know very well that the Clean Air Act was formulated to maintain a clean environment. It is also in the interest of drivers to have clean air, Wayas said, because drivers are exposed everyday to air pollution on the streets.

“The truth,” said Wayas, is that “many drivers are victims of tuberculosis and other lung illnesses.” Wayas said the Clean Air Act is supposed to be beneficial to all.

Wayas concedes that it is the obligation of drivers and operators to check and make sure their vehicles are clean and not emitting much carbon or smoke. But he explained that much as they wanted to, some things are beyond their control. For example, it is not entirely the drivers’ or operators’ fault if their vehicles emit smoke beyond the limits stipulated in the Clean Air Act.

He explained that a vehicle’s bad performance also owes much to bad road conditions, surplus engines, substandard crude oil supply and poor transportation industry in the Philippines.

“The Baguio city roads are not being maintained as it should be. The rough roads cause more than normal wear and tear on our jeeps. The motor parts are mostly second-hand imports because we do not have an industry to produce them. And the substandard crude oil being imported and sold by oil companies here are, aside from being expensive, also dirty and poisonous because of the lead, sulfur, benzene content and other impurities that pollute the air,” said Wayas.

Wayas also said that when a driver is apprehended by traffic officers for smoke-belching, they are fined P1,200.00. On top of these they are paying other fees such as the road users’ tax, the seat belt law, drug testing law, franchise fees and other fines from minor traffic violations.

Wayas said that it looks like they are now driving their jeeps just to pay for such numerous fees and fines and no longer for a livelihood. “It seems that we are being fined for the inadequacies of the government in providing good roads, negotiating fair trade or importation laws, implementing a program for national industrialization, clean fuel supply and concrete support for the public transport system which is the main source of livelihood of a big number of workers in every town of the country,” said Wayas.

On June 15, 2009, Baguio City Councilor Erdolfo V. Balajadia sponsored Ordinance No. 61 series of 2008, or Clean Air Ordinance, in accordance with the Philippine Clean Air Act. Under the said ordinance, owners of smoke belching vehicles shall be confronted, penalized and their plate numbers confiscated and withheld unless the offending vehicles are tested, cleaned up and certified clean by the Roadside Inspection Testing and Monitoring Team (RITMT).

In their position paper, Piston asked the Baguio City council to waive the polluter’s fee because the drivers and small operators are already hard-up from trying to save a part of their take-home earnings for their families aside from paying other fees and fines. The group said that the sole obligation of the vehicle owner ris to pay P50.00 testing fee and the strict implementation of the recommendations of RITMT.

The transport organization also said that public utility vehicles that have passed the emission tests should be given a Validation Emission Certificate by the Clean Air Monitoring Unit (CAMU) valid for a year.

Wayas said that the emission standards should be lowered to suit second hand surplus engines that equip most of Baguio’s public utility jeepneys. These jeepneys also run on sub-standard imported crude oil. “The present 4.5 standard for Carbon Monoxide emission when the vehicle is on idle status is based on European standards and the US, Singapore and other developed countries which use newer engines,” explained Wayas.

The transport leader also said that full throttle is not appropriate during testing. According to him, the required throttle for a jeep during emission test is 900 engine revolution per minute (rpm) when idle and 3,500 rpm. In full throttle, it is equivalent to running at 120 kilometer per hour which is impossible on the roads of Baguio City.

“There should be a stop to roadside apprehensions until the jeeps emitting heavy smoke are repaired,” said Piston in a statement. The group said that the local government of Bagio has a big obligation to apprehend smoke-belching vehicles but it also has a bigger obligation not to compromise the small incomes of its drivers and small jeepney operators. Reposted by ()

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