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Tugade pushes for cleaner air in Metro Manila

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“To be honest with you, the fight for clean air is something personal to me. My son has asthma, and this happened so many years ago, and you can probably imagine how much worse pollution is right now in the country.”

“From there on I said to myself, we should do something for the environment to avoid aggravation of such illnesses. Indeed, loss of life is enough reason for us to drive for an environmentally sustainable public transport system here in the Philippines.”

This is an excerpt (along with the other quoted paragraphs here in this article) from the speech by Department of Transportation Secretary Art Tugade delivered during a recent forum in Quezon CIty.

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Mr. Tugade’s reasons to push for cleaner air may be personal but whether we like it or not, the air we breathe is one of the basic needs we cannot live without. The quality of our air is crucial for human life to also live in quality.

However, air pollution has become a serious threat. Our modern day activities are altering our atmosphere at an unprecedented scale. This has an impact on air quality and is affecting people’s health not only here in Metro Manila, but the entire country, and the world as well.

Data even show that at least 90 percent in the urbanized regions of the population is exposed to harmful levels of air pollution.

According to a World Health Organization (WHO) study, adverse air quality is responsible for around 2.2 million of the world's seven million premature deaths.

In the Philippines, air pollution has become one of the biggest health emergencies, recording a total of 45.3 deaths for every 100,000 people due to air pollution—the third-highest in the world, based on the 2018 WHO study.

Those deaths are tied to fine particulate matter in polluted air that penetrate deep into our lungs and cardiovascular systems, increasing the risk of heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, like asthma, and respiratory infections, such as pneumonia, and also impacting our cognitive abilities in one way or another.

Recent studies have also shown that even relatively low levels of air pollution can affect people’s health, and this is also very alarming.

Government is also promoting green spaces in the National Capital Region thru the Metro Manila Greenways Project. Under this initiative, the public will be given elevated walkways that serve as alternative form of transport—ways to facilitate movement from various forms.

Again, the key is awareness on how important it is for transport to be properly managed to also impact the environment.

Citing the Philippines has one of the worst traffic on Earth, one company, GET Comet believes that we need less cars and more public transport. It manufactures electric vehicles that have zero emissions.

On top of that, their high capacity, latest generation electric buses offer air-conditioning, free Wi-Fi, and access for people with mobility disabilities.

Ms. Kyle Tinga, a sustainable transport specialist there also presented their proprietary mobile app that provides real-time travel schedules making transport more efficient and organized.

Lastly, to allay fears that this kind of conveyance technology will displace current drivers and owners of public utilities, the company re-introduced a more resourceful and more profitable opportunity for everyone—crowdfunding the fleet.

For us new to the concept, it is the practice of funding a project or venture by raising many small amounts of money from a large number of people, typically via online or other networking means.

Crowdfunding has been a potentially powerful “bottom-up” tool to help economic development and create jobs through access to capital, and provide the guidance and mentorship businesses need to find revenue growth.

Mr. Robert Cang of the Lagao Drivers Operators Transport Cooperative based in General Santos City said their drivers save around P420 per day in fuel cost just by shifting to the use of e-Jeepneys or electrically propelled jeepneys compared to the traditional multicabs. He said the e-Jeepneys also carry more passengers per trip that also add up to their total earnings. 

“Just imagine how much we can achieve if we compile all our best ideas and work together to curb pollution.”

“If we took all these projects and initiatives together, we’ll be contributing to the campaign for the environment. Change has indeed begun, and we can further push for the deployment of modern vehicles that are environmentally sustainable. Let us come together and empower our country’s low carbon systems. Today, let us embrace the idea of an environment-friendly transportation system and turn it into reality, so that the future sons and daughters of this generation will live in a clean environment.”


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