Issue of March 4, 2018
     
NEWS
Benguet
Ifugao
Mt. Province
 
OPINION
 

2017
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City wide implementation of carless days gains support
by Rimaliza A. Opiña

Imagine the streets of Baguio without cars even for just two days in a year.

Taking off from the carless days of the University of the Philippines Baguio and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Cordillera, a proposed ordinance has been submitted to the city council, which mandates carless days in Baguio.

Unlike the current practice where carless days are imposed only at Session Road, the proposal of Councilor Elaine Sembrano, chair of the committee on environment, calls for the ban on all roads including in the barangays. The proposal contends that every physically able resident of Baguio has to walk or ride a bicycle from the point of origin to the point of destination.

The proposed carless days are every April 22 of every year, coinciding with World Earth Day and June 5 for the World Environment Day. The ban will be from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Vehicles used for disaster response are not included.

The proposal did not tackle how it would handle the needs of persons with disabilities, pregnant women, and senior citizens.

The committee on environment has just conducted a public hearing on the proposal.

The proposal has the support of the Environment Management Bureau and clean air advocates. But citizens who attended the public hearing suggested that the carless days should be limited at the central business district only.

Others suggested for City Hall to also adopt a carless day; implementation of a window period, and if the ordinance is approved, only people with special needs should be exempted. Even tourists should also be required to walk, they added.

Committee member Councilor Joel Alangsab proposed for an experiment to gauge public reaction. He said carless days are easier implemented in institutions such as UP or DENR but widening its coverage in a city with a highly mobile population is easier said than done. He said economic repercussions of the proposal have to be considered before the proponent pursues it.

“What about taxi or jeepney drivers who have to meet a certain quota for a day? It will affect their income. What about those whose houses are far from their place of work or school. Are we going to expect them to walk that far?” Alangsab asked during the public hearing.

Sembrano said the proposed carless days is meant to address the worsening air pollution in the city. She said banning cars on all roads for just a day has enormous benefits not just to the environment, but also to the health.


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