Over 100 lawyers have threatened to sue government officials should they fail to implement within 30 days an environment-friendly road-sharing scheme that would favor the “carless people of the Philippines.”
In a 13-page letter sent to government agencies, 126 lawyers from all over the country led by staunch environmental advocate Antonio Oposa Jr. demanded that the roads be equally shared—50-50 and lengthwise—by car owners and those who are without vehicles.
In the July 3 letter with the heading “Notice to Sue to Implement Road Sharing,” which was signed by the group, which claimed to represent the country’s carless citizens, it said that half of the roadways should be devoted to “organized, collective, clean and affordable transportation system.”
Among those who signed the letter were Sigfrid Fortun, Rolly Vinluan and Linda and Karen Jimeno.
The group said they were taking up the cudgels for those exposed to vehicular accidents and air pollution, even car owners who would give up their vehicles if presented with a reliable public transportation option.
Copies of the letter were sent to officials of the Departments of Transportation and Communications, Public Works and Highways, Environment and Natural Resources, the Interior and Local Governments, the Climate Change Commission headed by the Office of the President and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority.
In their letter, the group said that one-half of the roads should be devoted to motorized vehicles while the other half be set aside for wide and covered sidewalks, all-weather bike lanes and urban edible gardens.
According to the lawyers, their demand was based on the stark fact that while only two out of every 100 people in the country own vehicles, car owners are given almost all the road space.
The remaining 98 percent of Filipinos who do not own cars are not even given proper sidewalks, bicycle lanes or a good public transportation system, they added.
They cited an existing law that directed concerned government agencies to reform the road system based on a simple principle: “Those who have less in wheels must have more in roads,” referring to Executive Order 774 issued in 2008 and Administrative Order 254 in 2009.
They pointed out that the failure of the government to implement the law and the resulting damage to the people was tantamount to “ecological homicide.”
The Filipinos’ right to clean air was being taken away without due process of law, they said as they took notice of public officials’ partiality toward private vehicles in Metro Manila, Cebu and other urban centers in the country.
“In these areas, the roads are now choking with cars and air pollution,” they added.
Backed by 28 renowned international lawyers, the group gave the government agencies 30 days to comply with provisions of the law and implement the principle of road sharing.
A team of top urban planners have volunteered to help in the implementation of the road-sharing principle, the lawyers said.