November is Philippine Clean Air Month
Tacloban City (November 3) -- "Let us all act to clean the air." This is the invitation of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau, the lead agency as the country celebrates the month of November as the Philippine Clean Air Month.
It would be recalled that November has been declared as the Clean Air Month through Presidential Proclamation No. 1101 issued in 1997. This brings into the forefront issues and solutions to the growing problem of air pollution in our country today, especially in key urban cities.
Clean Air Month comes in a most opportune time as provides the time to strengthen advocacies particularly on the adjustment of fuel quality specifications on aromatics and benzene, on the mandatory emission testing prior to registration of vehicles, among others.
The month-long celebration serves as a springboard for a it is celebrated in the light of controversy surrounding the implementation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) – proposed deferment of the implementing rules and regulations of the law at the Senate, particularly in the adjustment of fuel quality specifications on aromatics and benzene and issues of transport groups in the mandatory emission testing prior to registration, among others – which also served as springboard for a more intensive campaign against air pollution.
In 2007, the Department of Interior and Local Government, with support from the DENR-EMB, ordered the launching of the Linis Hangin sa Siyudad/Munisipyo Program as part of the nationwide enforcement and implementation of Republic Act No. 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.
Under the program, local chief executives are encouraged to issue resolutions or enact ordinances on air pollution control and include clean air policies in their local development plan, conduct information campaigns on the value of smoke-free communities, and encourage community leaders, civic and religious organizations, and school institutions to actively support the campaign against air pollution in their localities.
As the country commemorates the Clean Air Month this year, perhaps, it would be wise to know how many LGUs answered positively to the urgent call for the Local Government Units to really take a pro-active role in protecting the environment and the natural resources.
The Local Government Code clearly provides that local executives are mandated to implement environmental laws. Besides they are at the forefront of local environmental governance and are therefore accountable to their constituents on what they do to address environmental issues and concerns affecting their constituents.
In fairness, several local government units have initiated programs under the Clean Air Act, but much still need to be done. The LGUs still have to do more about smoke belching vehicles, about providing bikeways which are meant to provide and environment-friendly transport mode to resident, about regulating smoking in public places, and the shifting from two-stroke to four-stroke tricycles.
The Linis Hangin Program which was launched by DENR-EMB in November 2004 has three sub-programs: Bantay Tambutso, Bantay Tsiminea, and Bantay Sunog-Basura. In 2004, the Bantay Tambutso sa Malls was launched, and the Bantay Tambutso sa Eskwela in 2005.
Knowing the ingenuity and creativity of the Filipinos, other ways of keeping the air clean for the sake of the citizen's health will hopefully be introduced by the local government units soon. (PIA 8) [top]