BAGUIO CITY – The City Legal Office (CLO) disclosed that most of the motor vehicles that had been apprehended for violation of the city’s anti-smokebelching ordinance for the first five months of the year are privately owned vehicles.
City Legal Officer Melchor Carlos Rabanes said that of the 71 license plate numbers of motor vehicles that have been turned over to the office for safekeeping, 41 are those belonging to private vehicles, 13 are for public utility jeepneys, 12 are those of taxis and 5 belong to government vehicles.
He revealed that the apprehended smoke belching government vehicles do not belong to the local government but they are from other agencies.
Based on the city’s anti-smoke belching ordinance that was crafted in 2008, the city legal office is the repository of the license plates that have been confiscated by personnel of the city’s roadside inspection, testing and monitoring action team after the motor vehicles failed the conduct of the tests conducted in strategic parts of the city.
Rabanes claimed that the city legal office does not actually release the license plates of motor vehicle owners after the payment of the prescribed fines considering that the claimant of the deposited license plate number must present that the said vehicle passed the smoke test that serve as attachment of the receipt of the paid fine.
Under the city’s anti-smoke belching ordinance, violators of the same are mandated to pay a total fine of P1,200 for the first offense, P3,200 for the second offense and P5,000 for the third and succeeding offenses.
He underscored that the implementation of the anti-smoke belching campaign of the local government is mandated under an approved ordinance way back in 2008 that is why it takes an amendatory ordinance from the local legislative body to revise the provisions of the measure.
According to him, motor vehicle owners must ensure that their vehicles are properly maintained to prevent them from being apprehended for failing the roadside inspection and testing conducted by duly deputized personnel of the local government to help in reducing the pollutants in the city’s air.
Based on previous studies conducted by personnel of the Cordillera office of the Environmental Bureau (EMB-CAR) in coordination with the City Environment and Parks Management Office (CEPMO), bad smoke emitted by motor vehicles have been identified as the primary pollutant in the city’s air, especially in the central business district area.
The approval of the city’s anti-smoke belching ordinance was one of the recommendations of an inter-agency committee to help in reducing the pollutants in the city’s air, especially by motor vehicles that emit bad smoke considering that the city is currently feeling the effects of climate change due to the unpredictable weather condition.
The implementation of the anti-smoke belching campaign has been criticized by motorists and had also been used by some politicians to advance their own political ambitions but the same has never been amended to date. Amidst the clamor for the reduction in the penalties imposed to violators of the measure.
By Dexter A. See