While bicycle-friendly roads have proven to be a life-giving shot in the arm for other countries’ congested highways, many Pinoys are asking: Is there still such a hope for our country’s own sclerotic streets?
Metropolitan Pinoys can no longer turn a blind eye to the country’s congested and polluted highways. But a petition to issue a “Writ of Kalikasan” for road use in the Philippines proposes road sharing to hit these two birds with one stone.
Transforming parts of our roads into all-weather bicycle lanes, covered sidewalks, and trams will encourage less use of private cars, “force the government to improve public transportation”, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, said environmental lawyer Antonio Oposa Jr., who spearheads the initiative.
The petition is to be filed to the Supreme Court on Monday, February 17.
“Pag hinati mo yung kalsada, yung mga may kotse, hahanap ng paraan para di na sila gumamit ng sasakyan,” Oposa said in a press briefing on Wednesday at the Lung Center of the Philippines.
Mandated by law
This move, Oposa added, is already mandated by law under Executive Order (EO) No. 774, Section 9 where the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) was tasked to “lead a Task Group to reform the transportation sector”.
“The new paradigm in the movement of men and things must follow a simple principle: ‘Those who have less in wheels must have more in road.’ For this purpose, the system shall favour non-motorized locomotion and collective transportation system (walking, bicycling, and the man-powered mini-train),”the EO said.
According to data from the National Statistical Coordination Board, only around 800,000 Filipinos own private vehicles. Oposa cited World Bank data showing that only two percent of the country’s population own non-motorized vehicles. However, majority of the roads are dedicated to this minority.
Also, at least 50% of global greenhouse gases are from transportation, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
DOTC, DENR involvement
Among the respondents of the writ are the Office of the President, the DOTC, the Department of Public Works and Highways, the Department of Interior and Local Government, and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) – all of whom Oposa says he is collaborating with.
“We are one of the respondents, but we are supporting this effort,” said DENR Environmental Management Bureau Director Mitch Cuna in a separate interview with reporters.
“This is the direction that we would like to take. If we lower the number of vehicles in the streets, then this would be a great help.”
Cuna also said that the DENR and the EMB are ready to respond to the Writ of Kalikasan should it be approved by the Supreme Court.
“Under the law, ang mobile sources po, is not under the DENR. That is under the DOTC, particularly the (Land Transportation Office). Ang amin po are ang stationary sources – iyon po yung mga factories,” he explained.
Oposa also said that he has been talking to the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) Chairman Francis Tolentino.
On Monday, the Writ of Kalikasan will be filed in the Supreme Court through the Share the Road Movement. They will also file the proposed Share the Roads Law at the Senate. — TJD, GMA News