Thursday, April 14, 2011

Legarda urged to fast-track implementation of total plastic ban

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 15, 2011-Even before her proposed measure is enacted into law, Senator Loren Legarda, Chair of the Senate Committee on Climate Change urged the government to fast-track the implementation of total plastic bag ban, saying that the national government can set an example by prohibiting the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags in their respective offices, while local government units (LGUs) can start by creating their own laws and ordinances in their respective jurisdictions.

Legarda, who recently filed Senate Bill 2759 otherwise known as the Total Plastic Bag Ban Act that seeks to prohibit the use of non-biodegradable plastic bags by groceries, supermarkets, public markets, restaurants, fast food chains, department stores, retail stores and other similar establishments nationwide.

The Senator said that there is a need for all of them to be effective models as precedent, stressing that local and chief executives’ are servants of the citizenry where they should set an example and show to our countrymen that this plastic bag ban can effectively be done in all public schools, hospitals, and government offices so the whole country will easily follow suit. 

Legarda added that there is a need to ensure that this new lifestyle and way of thinking is implemented in all households in the barangay and municipal levels where she also urged the local government units to fast-track the passage of their own versions of the total plastic bag ban.

“The City Government of Muntinlupa is now implementing the total plastic bag ban in their city while the Municipality of San Francisco in Camotes Island, Cebu has recently implemented the “no free plastic” program to force citizens to use re-usable bags,” the Senator said.

“There are numerous alternatives to non-biodegradable plastic bags. We have our baskets, bayongs, eco-bags, paper bags, cloth bags or katsa, bags made of recycled tetrapacks, and many others. We just have to be innovative and ingenious in finding substitute packaging materials or containers,” she explained. (Jason de Asis)

Electric vehicles to lessen air pollution and to fight fuel costs says Angara

SENATE OFFICE, Manila, April 15, 2011-To step towards ending oil dependency and fighting pollution in the country, Senator Edgardo J. Angara, Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science and Technology and Engineering (COMSTE), lauded the Asian Development Bank (ADB)'s electric tricycle project (e-trike project) in line with the government’s National Electric Vehicle Strategy which aims to replace conventional modes of transport with more environmentally friendly options.

“COMSTE has identified the development of electric vehicles and green transport as priority projects of the commission for 2011,” Angara said, adding that the innovative Green transport systems such as electric tricycles, hybrid jeepneys, buses and electric bicycles have the potential to lessen pollution caused by conventional transportation and the dependency on fossil fuels.

“We import roughly 96% of our petroleum and the majority is consumed by the growing transport sectors where they account for the biggest share of the energy use, nearing to 40%,” Angara said, explaining that to lay out plans for developing the e-vehicle industry, including petitioning the ADB to source the design and manufacture of e-trikes to local suppliers and manufacturers, COMSTE is partnered with the Electric Vehicle Alliance of the Philippines (EVAP), which met with the Clean Air Initiative Asia (CAI-Asia) and various government agencies and industry players.

“E-trike owners will save approximately 200 pesos a day in fuel costs. Petroleum-fueled trikes cost use 5 liters of fuel a day, at a cost of PHP 230 ($5) vs. a daily cost of PHP 30 (66 cents) to recharge the lithium batteries,” he furthered.

Kunio Senga, director general of ADB's Southeast Asia Department said that once thousands of e-trikes begin to be manufactured, many new jobs could be created, saying that by working together, we can give Manila cleaner air, bluer skies, and a more livable environment.

“The Philippines is assuming a leading role in Asia in supporting green transportation alternatives, and if e-trikes are followed by new fleets of electric buses and jeepneys, the effect could be transformative,” he said.

Senga furthered that the new e-trikes utilize lithium ion batteries, instead of heavier and environmentally-unfriendly lead acid batteries used in earlier e-trike models. The weight of the lithium ion battery is approximately 40 kilos, compared against 140 kilos for lead acid batteries of equal capacity – the equivalent weight of two adult passengers.

He said that the cost of lithium batteries is almost double that of lead acid batteries, their operational life is 15 times longer. (Jason de Asis)

Umali and Padiernos urged local executives in Nueva Ecija for drug test

GAPAN CITY, April 15, 2011-To dramatize the provincial government’s all-out drive against drug syndicates in Nueva Ecija, Gov. Aurelio Umali and Vice Gov. Jose Gay Padiernos urged the local chief executives in the province to help fight illegal drugs where they started subjecting themselves to a drug test even as they led thousands of Novo Ecijanos in a fun run in this city’s streets.

Umali accepted the call of Interior and Local Governments Secretary Jesse Robredo for the local officials to undergo drug tests if only to deliver the message that they clean of the drug menace and thus, have the moral ascendancy to lead the crusade against illegal drugs.

The governor said that he is in favor for the local executives to have the drug test a long time ago and his position has not changed, when asked by newsmen if he would echo Robredo’s call.

Umali, along with Padiernos and board members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan, led an estimated 5,000 Novo Ecijanos in an early morning five-kilometer run at the town plaza here for the run-for-a-cause activity dubbed “Takbo laban sa Droga (Run against Drugs). Later, the governor, together with Mayor Christian Tinio and Vice Mayor Rodel Matias, launched the “fiesta caravan” of the Capitol wherein the provincial government provides various forms of services to local residents.          

“It is the second fun run activity spearheaded by the provincial government and the third anti-illegal drug mass action following a rally in Palayan City last February and in Cabanatuan,” Umali said.

Padiernos, head of the provincial government’s newly created task force against illegal drugs, said yesterday’s run is one of the biggest statements in the anti-drug campaign, saying that the provincial government is hell-bent on eradicating the drug menace and proof of this was the allocation of P3.5 million for the operation of the task force.

Padiernos agreed with Umali that local officials in the province should voluntarily submit themselves to drug tests if only to show to the public they are fit to join the crusade for good governance.

He said that even when he was still campaigning for vice governor, he had asked all his fellow candidates to take tests. “With all due respect to Secretary Robredo, I was ahead of him in sounding the call for elective officials to take the test,” he said.

Penaranda Mayor Ferdinand Abesamis, newly designated president of the provincial chapter of the League of Municipalities of the Philippines, said that the matter is not an issue with him.

“I have no problem with that. In fact, there was a proposal before that if you file your certificate of candidacy, you undergo the drug test. Whether elected or not, one must undergo the drug test,” he said.

Abesamis clarified, however, that drug testing must be voluntary. “Of course, you can’t coerce people to take the test,” he said. (Jason de Asis)


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