MANILA – The big switch – to the use of electric and hybrid vehicles – would hit three birds with one stone: cut pollution, solve chronic health problems and improve incomes of public utility drivers, Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan said at the weekend.
THe senator has filed Senate Bill 1540 or the “Electric and Hybrid Vehicles Including Charging Stations Promotions Act of 2017,” in a bid to lessen the country’s contribution to climate change, eventually lower the health risks brought by air pollution, and provide for more income in the transport sector.
“Madalas na biktima ng kalamidad ang Pilipinas, at lalo pang lumalala ang ating mga kalye tuwing umuulan. Kapag umuulan at bumabaha, ang tindi ng inaabot nating trapiko. Isa ito sa mga direktang epekto ng climate change sa ating pang-araw-araw na buhay. Kailangan nating baguhin ang ating araw-araw na pamumuhay para makatulong sa pagbabawas ng epekto ng climate change,” said Pangilinan, who is also Liberal Party president.
(“The Philippines is a disaster-prone country, and our roads are especially unbearable when it rains. Non-stop rains and flooding cause horrendous traffic jams. This is a direct impact of climate change to our everyday lives. We must start changing our daily lifestyle to help lessen the impact of climate change.”)
In line with the Philippines’ commitment to reduce its carbon emissions by 70% by year 2030, his Senate Bill 1540 seeks to provide time-bound tax incentives for the manufacture, assembly, and use of hybrid and electric cars as well as charging stations.
Public utility vehicles will also be exempted from the mandatory number-coding traffic scheme, get exclusive parking in commercial establishments, and given priority in registration and franchise applications at the Land Transportation Office.
“Hindi sapat na kailangan lang nating solusyunan ang matinding trapik sa ating mga kalsada. Kung maaari ay gawin din ito sa paraang pangmatagalan at makakabuti sa ating kapaligiran at maging sa kalusugan ng lahat ng mga gumagamit ng kalye. Kapag naipatupad ito, tinatayang madadagdagan din ang kita ng mga tricycle driver ng 30% dahil mas maraming pasahero ang kasya sa mga electric vehicles. Mas mura rin ang pagcharge dito kumpara sa presyo ng gasolina,” said Pangilinan.
(“It is not enough that we only resolve the issue of extreme traffic in our roads. If possible, this must also be done in a manner that is sustainable and environment-friendly, as well as healthy for road users. This bill is also projected to increase the income of tricycle drivers by 30% because electric vehicles allow for more passenger capacity and charging them is cheaper than fuel.”)
The bill builds on the Paris Agreement on Climate Change the Philippines ratified last March.
The transportation sector worldwide contributes to 20% of the total carbon dioxide emissions globally. In the Philippines alone, public transport accounts for 36.1% of total carbon dioxide emissions from fuel combustion.
Replacing regular tricycles with 100,000 e-tricycles could reduce gasoline consumption by 561,000 barrels a year or 260,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, as estimated by the Department of Energy.
Cut health risk, boost drivers’ incomes
The measure is also seen to lower the pedestrian and transportation worker’s risk to the unhealthy effects of air pollution from constant exposure to Manila’s worsening air quality.
An average Metro Manila resident spends 1,000 hours on congested roads every year, said the Philippine chapter of the International Real Estate Federation.
Former Health Secretary Enrique Ona cautioned about the higher incidence of non-communicable diseases caused by worsening air pollution. This includes allergies, chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD), cancer, and heart disease. COPD alone affects almost 3 million Filipinos annually.
Relatedly, the Department of Trade and Industry projected that income of tricycle drivers could also be increased by 30% because e-vehicles have an increased passenger capacity of 50% than normal tricycles. Moreover, charging costs for electric and hybrid vehicles are significantly cheaper than the cost of fuel by 65%.
The electric and hybrid vehicles industry enjoys an increasing support in major Metro Manila cities as it is the vehicle of choice for transporting tourists. The sector also contributes employment to more than 50,000 Filipinos involved in manufacturing, trading, and sales.
Pangilinan last year filed several measures to help mitigate the effects of climate change while helping raise the income of the informal sector, such as Expanded Crop Insurance Act of 2016, National Food Security Act of 2016, and the Strategic Food Security Rice Reserve Act of 2016.