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Rhetorical question

by Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate

How serious is our government in cleaning our air?

The Philippine Congress has already passed Republic Act No. 8749 or the Clean Air Act way back in 1999. How well have the implementing agencies performed in the last 18 years?

Cleaning our air means getting rid of smoke-belching vehicles, among others. The programs and performances of the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) against smoke-belching vehicles illustrate the level of our government’s seriousness in implementing the Clean Air Act as a way of serving the interest of the current and future generations of Filipinos.

The last action of the LTO, together with the DENR, the PNP and the local government of Quezon City, on smoke-belching vehicles that was reported through the media was made May of this year. These agencies conducted an unannounced and random smoke emission testing on 88 vehicles along Commonwealth Avenue. Out of the 88 tested vehicles, 76 vehicles failed the test. In other words, 86 percent of the tested vehicles were emitting smoke beyond the legal and allowable limit.

LTO announced that there would be more random smoke emission tests after that not only in Metro Manila but also in other parts of the country.

We have not heard again of any follow through action.

We question the seriousness of the government, particularly the LTO, DENR and local government units because the problem about the presence of smoke-belching vehicles in our roads obviously exists and yet, we cannot see committed action on the part of the government to deal with the problem.

Let’s face the fact the smoke emission test, as a requirement for the annual vehicle registration, is not an effective way of ensuring that our streets are free of smoke-belching vehicles. In addition to the fact that vehicles can be “conditioned” prior to the test, the test results may also be manipulated for a “fee.”

The implementation of the Clean Air Act, specifically on the aspect of vehicle smoke emission, is ningas kugon, at best. The LTO, in particular, cannot wash its hands, so to speak, by citing resource constraints because even with very limited resources, it can do a lot.

No one is really concerned about the fines that have to be paid for the first, second, and third offenses because apprehension mechanisms are effectively non-existent.

How serious is our government in cleaning our air? This is a rhetorical question that needs to be asked to remind the concerned government agencies about their failure in serving the interest of the people.

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