DUE to mounting complaints from motorists over alleged cases of extortion, the Makati city government suspends its anti-smoke belching operations.
Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay on Tuesday ordered the suspension of the operations of the Makati Pollution and Control Office (MPCO) also because of the failure of its enforcers to comply with the implementing guidelines of the local vehicle emission code and the Clean Air Act or Republic Act 8749.
Binay has directed the Office of the City Administrator, headed by Atty. Eleno Mendoza, to conduct a thorough investigation of the complaints.
He likewise urged the public to file formal complaints with the said office so that their concerns may be properly addressed.
“Motorists or the riding public who may have complaints against our MPCO enforcers comprising our local anti-smoke belching unit may lodge a formal complaint with the Office of the City Administrator,” Binay said.
The mayor issued the suspension order on ASBU operations after learning of several complaints posted on the city’s official Twitter accounts, @MakatiTraffic and @MakatiInfo, as well as on Facebook and blogspots.
“The city government does not tolerate abusive law enforcers. We have suspended ASBU operations to make way for a thorough investigation on the complaints we have been receiving from a growing number of motorists venting their frustrations on social media,” Binay said.
The mayor said anti-smoke belching operations in the city will remain suspended until the issues have been thoroughly investigated and resolved.
He also directed MPCO chief Ricardo Suarez to move up the scheduled annual training program for enforcers, previously held second week of December, and subject them to intensive training while their operations are suspended.
Binay, however, called on motorists to be responsible citizens and see to it that their vehicles are well-maintained to contribute to the advocacy for cleaner air and a healthier environment.
“Let us not forget that the real intent of the Clean Air Act and all government activities emanating from it is to reduce air pollution especially in highly urbanized areas like Makati City, where over half a million motor vehicles, mostly running on fossil fuel, ply the road network daily,” Binay said.
The stringent implementing guidelines of the said law, he added, reflect the seriousness and urgency of minimizing carbon emissions that contribute to global warming and the increasingly vicious weather disturbances in the country and around the world attributed to climate change.
Among the issues frequently raised by complainants was the improper conduct of roadside emission testing, particularly ASBU enforcers allegedly stepping too hard and long on the accelerator.
Cases of extortion and harassment were also aired by netizens, as well as traffic jams arising from the conduct of ASBU operations in the city.
Another complaint was their seeming indifference to smoke-belching public utility jeepneys and buses.
The Makati City Vehicle Emission Control Code was enacted through City Ordinance No. 2004-032.
It sets emissions standards for motor vehicles and provides corresponding penalties for violations, as follows: First offense, P1,000; Second offense, P2,000; and Third offense, P3,000. In all cases, the driver’s license and/or vehicle license plate will be confiscated and will only be released to the owner when the vehicle passes the emission test.
The MPCO is the designated arm of the Makati Public Safety Department (also known as MAPSA) tasked to enforce the vehicle emission standards in the said ordinance.
At present, it has 31 enforcers tasked to conduct anti-smoke belching operations.
According to Suarez, Makati’s ASBU teams have been conducting their operations based on the implementing guidelines of R.A. 8749 issued by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Nonetheless, he assured that his office will fully cooperate in the investigation so that the issues raised will be resolved and addressed promptly.
RITCHIE A. HORARIO