It seems Metro Manilans are at risk from public utility vehicles not just on the road, where drivers behave like they are car racers trying to qualify for the Grand Prix.
An Inquirer report says even people who are sleeping at home are also in danger, not from reckless driving but from pollutants that ill-maintained vehicles release into the already highly-contaminated atmosphere.
Volunteers from the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates (CCAA), who joined government enforcers in monitoring nighttime smoke belching, found that almost every night was like New Year’s Eve in the metropolis due to the haze created by emissions from poorly maintained motor vehicles. As we know, Metro Manilans usually wake up to a very unhealthy haze on New Year’s Day from all the fireworks.
Although the volunteers monitored only Commonwealth Avenue in Quezon City, most people will agree the situation is true in almost every part of the metropolis.
So, what exactly do those emission testing centers do? What kinds of tests do they conduct? How effective are those tests and the equipment used? Do the persons who conduct the tests know what they are doing, what they are supposed to test for? And why is it that vehicles do not seem to emit so much pollutants in the daytime?
In a letter asking President Aquino to compel government agencies to strictly enforce the provisions of the Clean Air Act of 1999, CCAA chair Leo Olarte said, “Motor vehicles undergo and pass emission tests on paper, but in reality most of them are never tested at all.”
That is not surprising. Many Filipinos have drivers’ licenses but do not even know where to put the ignition key. They have no idea what traffic signs mean and are completely ignorant of traffic laws and regulations. Remember the blind man who was issued a driver’s license, sight unseen? (pun intended)
In this country, if you have the money, you can be licensed as a pilot of Airbus’ A380 jet, the world’s biggest plane, even if you have not seen an airport.
CCAA vice president Mike Aragon said that to minimize, if not completely eliminate Metro Manila’s serious pollution problem, “The real solution lies in regular vehicle maintenance supported by real tests and inspections.”
Reynaldo Macalino, who identifies himself as a “returning resident of the Philippines,” says he now plans to go back to the United States where he has lived for several years “because of what I’ve been experiencing since I came back here—outdoor parking, the street as a huge garbage dumpster, people not respecting each other, all pasaway!”
He adds that his friends had warned him he would not be able to stay and would want to go back to the US in no time. Macalino wonders, “I want to prove them wrong, but how?”
Another reader says in an e-mail that motorists and residents of Quezon City’s Projects 6 and 8, Veterans, Pag-asa, Tandang Sora and Novaliches areas want to ask the Quezon City government and/or Metro Manila Development Agency, through this column, to clear Agham, NIA and BIR Roads of obstructions.
He says these roads serve as alternate routes to the northern parts of Quezon City. “Obstructions, especially along Agham Road near North Avenue, include junk vehicles, tow trucks, chicken/poultry houses (only in the Philippines!), soft drink cases, bamboo poles, junk equipment, ambulant food stalls, carts, parked vehicles, including tricycles and motorcycles. Traffic is horrendous especially in the morning and early evening hours and especially because there are two big malls within the immediate vicinity…”
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