DENR backs road-sharing for cleaner Metro air
Although pollution levels in Metro Manila may have declined in the last 10 years, they are still above acceptable standards set under the law, according to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Citing the results, Environment Secretary Ramon Paje called on the public to support government programs to reduce air pollution even as he expressed support for a petition filed the other day in the Supreme Court pushing for a road-sharing scheme among motorists, pedestrians and cyclists.
Based on air quality data from the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), the level of Total Suspended Particulates (TSP) in Metro Manila last year reached 118 micrograms per normal cubic meter (ug/Ncm).
The Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 sets the healthy guideline value for TSP, one of the measures for air pollution, at 90 ug/Ncm per year and 230 ug/Ncm per day.
But Paje noted that the 2013 figure had actually gone down from 10 years ago, seesawing over the years.
“In 2004, the TSP was at 171 ug/Ncm. Then it went down to 129 ug/Ncm in 2009, then up again to 150 in 2010,” he said.
Paje released the figures a day after lawyers and civilians representing the “carless people of the Philippines” went to the high tribunal, seeking, among other things, to devote half of all roads nationwide to an organized and affordable transportation system and the other half for wide and covered sidewalks, all-weather bike lanes and urban gardens.
The objective, according to the petitioners, was to reduce traffic, air pollution and heat-trapping gases from emissions by motor vehicles.
Paje said that should the high court grant the petition and issue a writ, it would, “in no uncertain terms, inject new vigor into the DENR’s implementation of policies that bear directly on the people’s right to breathe clean air.”
He added that the Philippines’ efforts to combat air pollution have actually improved due to various steps initiated by the government and its partners.
But he admitted that much still needed to be done to achieve a cleaner and healthier air. “Full and effective implementation of the country’s 14-year-old clean air law is the key to further improve the quality of the air we breathe,” Paje said.
He noted that a program promoting the use of clean and alternative fuel and another proposing the establishment of provincial bus terminals outside Metro Manila to reduce the volume of vehicles on the road were already in place.
The EMB has also installed additional fully automated monitoring stations to measure the air pollution level at strategic points around the metropolis, he said.