• More teeth sought for Clean Air Act

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    A LAWMAKER is proposing that vehicle owners, instead of vehicle drivers and operators, be punished for smoke belching.

    Rep. Alfredo Vargas 3rd of Quezon City’s Fifth District has  made the proposal under House Bill 6298 in seeking to strengthen  provisions of Republic Act (RA) 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

    “With the driver held liable, owners are not compelled to make the necessary vehicle repairs or part replacements in order to comply with the emission standards. Thus, the problem of smoke belching is not effectively addressed,” Vargas said.

    The proposed measure aims to amend Section 46 of RA 8749, which penalizes the drivers and operators of motor vehicles that violate emission standards.

    These motor vehicles are mostly trucks and public utility vehicles (PUVs), according to Vargas.

    He said it can be assumed that drivers of PUVs are just employees of the owners and do not necessarily have the proper means and control over major repairs of the vehicles.

    Under the proposed measure, the owner of the apprehended vehicle shall attend a seminar on pollution control and management conducted by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC).

    The vehicle owner shall also suffer the penalty of one-year suspension of the motor vehicle registration (MVR) and a fine of P10,000.

    Under the current provisions of RA 8749, the driver and operator of the apprehended vehicle shall undergo the seminar.
    They also face a fine not exceeding P2,000 for the first offense; a fine not less than P2,000 and not more than P4,000 for the second offense; and a one-year suspension of the MVR and a fine not less than P4,000 and not more than P6,000 for the third offense.

    Vargas pointed out that people in Metro Manila or National Capital Region (NCR) “are highly vulnerable” to developing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases because of the “worsening” air quality in the region.

    Citing a partial report of the National Emissions Inventory, the lawmaker said 85 percent of air pollution in the NCR came from vehicles.

    “While the Philippine has enacted laws to attain clean and healthy air quality, further policy review is still needed as these statutes have proven to be inadequate in solving the country’s air pollution problem,” Vargas said.

    REINA TOLENTINO

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