Press Release
May 3, 2006

Due to worsening air pollution in Metro Manila

Senator Manny Villar, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Public Order, says the high level of air pollution in the country particularly in Metro Manila should be treated as a serious cause for concern considering the health risks that hazardous fumes pose to people especially children.

"City or urban dwellers are the ones adversely affected by the worsening quality of air. It's no joke. Harmful emissions from vehicles are known to affect the health of people. This may be the reason to the increasing incidence of upper respiratory tract infections or diseases among Filipinos," says Villar.

Motor vehicle emissions are a significant source of pollution, including carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides and hydrocarbons. Carbon monoxide may cause dizziness, difficulty in breathing and in extreme cases, even death. Hydrocarbons and nitrogen oxides combine with sunlight form ground level ozone or the so-called smog. Smog can aggravate health problems for people with heart disease and breathing-related diseases such as bronchitis, rhinitis, asthma and emphysema. It can be especially harmful to children and the elderly.

According to Villar, "Authorities should tighten the implementation of vehicle emission tests. There are reports that many registration certificates are still released or renewed even if they don't pass the tests. Land Transportation Office (LTO) personnel involved in such scam should be reprimanded or penalized."

Pursuant to Republic Act (RR) 8749 or the Clean Air Act which was authored by Villar when he was still Speaker of the House of Representatives, the LTO is mandated not to renew registration of vehicles which will not pass the mandatory vehicle emission test.

Villar also filed two Senate bills to enhance the campaign against air pollution especially from vehicle emissions. There are Senate Bill (SB) 716 or an act to protect and promote the health of the people through the prevention, control and abatement of air pollution caused by smoke-belching vehicles' and SB 717 or an act providing the installation of anti-pollution devices as pre-requisites to the registration and issuance of licenses and license plate numbers to newly registered vehicles.

"We should strictly implement the Clean Air Act as well as the vehicle emission standards. If we must, we should again apprehend smoke-belching vehicles on the roads especially buses, jeepneys and tricycles that are notorious smoke-bechers," adds Villar.

According to the DENR, Manila ranks as the fifth most polluted among major cities worldwide along with Beijing and Shanghai in China; New Delhi, India and Jakarta, Indonesia. Based on the readings from air monitoring stations, the total suspend particles or TSP level in Metro Manila was around 144 microgram per normal cubic meter last year. The standard or ideal TSP level is 90 microgram per normal cubic meter.

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