Philippine Clean Air Act 0f 1999
The Clean Air Act was envisioned to fight air pollution by : (1) Reducing emissions from motor vehicles (which account for 80 percent of the air pollution) from factories and power plants (which account for the remaining 20 percent); (2) Improving fuel quality to reduce or eliminate lead in gasoline and sulfur in diesel; (3) Reducing traffic congestion and improving traffic flow; (4) Strengthening quality monitoring, evaluation and reporting through hi-tech equipment; and (5) Preventing other sources of pollution such as incinerators, garbage burning and smoking.
Studies show that air in Metro Manila is no longer in safe. Worsening air pollution has caused more than 10,000 excess cases of acute bronchitis, almost 300 excess cases of asthma and nine excess cases of chronic bronchitis. At home, I usually drink 500mg of ascorbic acid but if I have scheduled traveled to Manila, I would always drink 1000mg of ascorbic acid just to keep my self healthy and strengthen my immune system.
In an article written by former Senator Alvarez, DENR destroys spirit and intent of Clean Air Act, he mentioned that motor vehicles being registered must not exceed the 0.5 percent carbon dioxide emission to pass the emission test. This was based on Euro 1 levels of 1991, a globally accepted emission standards. But the DENR through Department Administrative order no. 51 dated October 2003, lowered the Act’s allowable carbon monoxide emission from the Euro1 standard of 0.35 percent to 0.5 percent by volume which according to Senator Alvarez is way off the Act’s standard and violated some provisions of the law because congress has the exclusive power to amend the law. And worse, the relaxed the emission standards indefinitely, setting our anti-pollution program several steps backwards. But what is worst to me is that during emission testing, technician in testing center can easily manipulate the results of the test by simply making adjustment on the engine. And this had been the practice by most emission testing center here in Davao, and I have been a witness to this kind of practice being an owner of a private vehicle.
In the same column, according to Senator Alvarez that many may not know but since May 25, 2001, the Clean Air Act calls for a nationwide ban on smoking but this has not been thoroughly implemented. Long time exposure to direct and side stream tobacco smoke has been a leading cause of lung cancer and mouth cancer worldwide. In Davao City, an ordinance was passed and was enacted into law, prohibiting smoking inside public buildings, enclosed places including public vehicles and other means of transportation, any enclosed area outside private residences or private workplaces; and any duly designated enclosed area is strictly prohibited. The initial implementation of the law was very good but it soften when certain personalities (a congressman and IBP president) were caught smoking. In one daily newspaper I’ve read, a picture of a lawmaker smoking inside the session hall, with the caption, “A LAWMAKER a LAWBREAKER”.
How could we expect full and strict and implementation of the law when those who crafted and implemented it were the one’s breaking the law. But I am still hoping that as we celebrate the Clean Air Month this November, correct implementation of the Act would be in full swing.
ECOLOGICAL SOLID WASTE MANAGEMENT ACT OF 2000
The Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 (Republic Act 9003) passed in January 2000 was enacted largely in response to the growing scarcity of disposal sites, particularly in Metro Manila, which resulted in the garbage crisis in the region. The law emphasizes solid waste avoidance and volume reduction through source reduction and waste minimization measures, with the protection of public health and the environment as the primary goal.
Solid waste management whose importance is directly related to public health, resource management and utilization, and maintaining a clean environment, is necessary in ensuring human development. Solid waste management benefits the population in many ways.
A study made in Davao City indicates that waste segregation at the household level is not widely practiced and waste recycling is minimal. Past efforts to promote waste segregation at source have failed despite the issuance of city ordinances providing for sanctions and penalties for non-compliance. Some reasons that have been cited for the non-compliance include: indifference of local residents to participate in community waste management-related activities, local government collection services’ non-allowance for segregated waste collection, residents’ attitude that government has the sole responsibility over garbage management and lack of information and education campaigns. The City Government admitted that they failed to focus on solid waste management concerns and had difficulty enforcing the policy due to lack of budget and resources to educate the public on the proper means of disposing garbage in accordance with Republic Act 9003 or the Ecological Management Law.
To address this problem, I think education drive and a budget to teach residents about segregation would be needed. But even if the public will be educated , the next problem would be sourcing the money to buy the trash cans and colored plastic needed for the dumping of the segregated waste and it seems that with the worsening economic crisis and unemployment, it is highly likely that the trash cans which would be provided for segregated garbage would be stolen and sold. Barangay officials should campaign for the adoption of segregation among households within their neighborhood. The "heart and soul" of RA 9003 is mobilizing barangay officers and their constituents to make recovery facilities or areas for recycling household waste.
Philippine Clean Water Act
Republic Act 9275 is an act providing for a comprehensive water quality management. It primarily attempts to harmonize economic growth and environmental concern on water.
The general approach is creation of water quality management areas (WQMA) by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) using physiographic units such as watershed, river basins or water resources regions. The Act directs the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) and its attached agencies to prepare a national program on sewerage and septage management and the Department of Health (DOH) to formulate guidelines and standards for the collection, treatment and disposal of sewage including guidelines for the establishment and operation of centralized sewage treatment system. Further, the DENR shall establish standards for each significant wastewater parameter per industry sector and implement a wastewater charge system in all management areas through the collection of wastewater charges/fees. The system shall be established on the basis of payment to the government for discharging wastewater into the water bodies.
The creation of WQMAs may be a holistic approach to water body management. However, this involves serious coordination work and requires a big budget. On the other hand, since the sewerage and septage management is included, this is an indicator that the government is giving importance to this environmental aspect which has been taken for granted for years.
With regards to charges and penalties, it follows the “polluter pays principle”, which basically means that the more you pollute, the more you pay to the government. Though this may be a better approach, there would also be a tendency that industries would pass on the charges to their consumers through increase in the prices of their products. Nevertheless, the incentives lined up in the Act may also serve as come-on to industries to adhere to a cleaner and environment-friendly production process.
Lastly, because the approach is holistic and comprehensive, it is important that there is a strong linkage and funding mechanism.