BAGUIO CITY — At the heels of the recently approved ordinance allowing tourist vehicles to ply the city despite the number coding scheme, city hall launched the Clean Air Ordinance Tuesday with a handful personalities and media advocates pledging support.
The ordinance which was earlier approved and consequently published in September, made the city among the few cities in the country with a Clean Air measure.
With it in place, Councilor Erdolfo Balajadia, chairperson of the committee on health and environment, said the city could assist the Department of Transportation and Communications (DoTC) to implement the Clean Air Act or Republic Act 8749.
The ordinance mandates the creation of a Clean Air Monitoring Unit (CAMU), which will enforce the ordinance that penalizes owners and drivers of all smoke-belching vehicles in the city.
“This requires all vehicles plying the city to undergo a smoke emission test,” said Balajadia during the launching rites. All apprehended vehicle owners are required to fix the cause of emissions before the units are released, he added.
Meanwhile, transport group leader Perfecto Itliong Jr. of the Federation of Jeepney Operators and Drivers’ Association of Baguio-Benguet and La Union (Fedjodabblu) said most of the 110 transport organizations in the city support the ordinance.
“We are using alternative fuels to help improve the air quality in the city,” Itliong said. He reacted, however, to the ordinance that allowed tourist vehicles to roam the city, saying his group would forward an opposition to the ordinance.
Itliong claimed no prior knowledge over the newly approved ordinance.
Claiming his innocence over the amendatory ordinance, Balajadia said the council could always amend the ordinance again if it appears unpopular and if there are groups protesting its implementation.
Ordinance 107, approved December 11, amends Section 6 of Ordinance 01 of 2003, which spells out the number coding scheme. It exempts private motor vehicles and chartered buses of visitors, tourists vacationers or participants to conventions, conferences and assemblies from the number coding.
In passing the ordinance, the council premised that the presence of such vehicles has no substantial effect on the traffic flow in the central business district and that they considered the city as a major tourist destination, besides being a convention site.
Itliong said, however, there is no difference in pollutant emissions by public utility vehicles from those that come from private vehicles. “Allowing these into the city despite number coding negates the Clean Air Ordinance, which aims to improve air quality in the city,” he said.
“These are not licensed to pollute the city,” Balajadia commented, adding if the engines are not in good condition, tourists and visitors better not bring the vehicles into the city. # Lyn V. Ramo