By Alexandria Denise San Juan
While many areas are still under enhanced and general community quarantines, the Land Transportation Office (LTO) was directed to intensify and strictly implement anti-smoke belching initiatives as part of the Department of Transportation’s (DOTr) thrust to ensure public health in its sector.
“We must ensure that all vehicles on the road comply with our country’s emission standard,” Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said in an online meeting with the Department’s Road Sector over the week.
Tugade issued the directive to the LTO while the country continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that emissions from vehicle sources greatly contribute to air pollution, especially in urbanized areas of the country, which is among the major causes of respiratory problems and other ailments according to health experts.
“Persons with existing health problems, and therefore, with weak immune system, have a higher risk of contracting and difficulty in overcoming COVID-19,” the Department explained in a statement.
The DOTr cited a recent study released by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Institute of Environmental Science & Meteorology at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, and Airtoday.ph which showed that air quality in Metro Manila has improved significantly with the continued implementation of the enhanced community quarantine.
The Department added that majority of the air pollution in areas observed in the study came from vehicle emissions.
“Sayang naman ang pagbuti ng air quality, lalo na dito sa Metro Manila ngayong may ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), kung babalik lang din sa dati. Our skyline is now smog-free and very beautiful. Napakagandang pagmasdan. Kaya nararapat lamang na maging bahagi ang magandang kalidad ng hangin ng ating ‘new normal’ (It is unfortunate if air pollution will return when air quality now has improved, especially here in Metro Manila during the ECQ. Our skyline is now smog-free and very beautiful. What a sight to behold. We should have good air quality as part of our ‘new normal’),” Tugade pointed out.
For his part, LTO assistant secretary Edgar Galvante assured that it will comply with Tugade’s directive to strictly enforce Republic Act No.8749 or the Clean Air Act of 1999 and other relevant laws, and will intensify its anti-smoke belching enforcement.
“Magbubuo kami ng mga hakbang upang mapalawig at mapaigting ang implementasyon laban sa smoke-belching, alinsunod sa direktiba ni Secretary Tugade (We will develop measures to extend and intensify implementation against smoke-belching, under the directive of Secretary Tugade),” Galvante said.
“We will revisit the law and cite relevant provisions to intensify the implementation,” he added.