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Clean air advocates urge House: finish the job for clean air

Manila, 5 February — The Partnership for Clean Air today called on the House of Representatives to stand up for sustainable transport by nominating its members to the Bicameral Conference Committee that would reconcile conflicting provisions of the “Alternative Fuel Vehicles Incentives Act (AFVI)”, which was passed on Third Reading by the Senate early last week. The House of Representatives had already passed its version in March 2012. The Partnership for Clean Air, or PCA, is a broad-based multisectoral coalition of business associations, civil society groups, academic organizations, individuals, and civic associations.

“Having gone through the far more difficult process of committee hearings and plenary debate, the House will have a lot of explaining to do to the public why it failed to undertake such an easy task. The Senate has already selected from among its ranks and all the House needs to do is to choose its champions,” said Victoria Segovia, Executive Director of the PCA.

The AFVI bill passed in the Senate and the House both roll out strategic tax breaks to manufacturers, assemblers and sellers of alternative fuel vehicles such as electric-powered cars and jeepneys. In turn, this is expected to dramatically lower prices and widen access to such “green, more cost effective and efficient vehicles.” It would also, said Segovia, “be a significant step towards energy independence for the country.”

“It’s time for the House to steer the AFV bill past the finish line. Before it goes to the Palace for President Aquino’s consideration, Congress must first do its job,” Segovia said.

Every hour, Philippine motor vehicles consume 2.029 million liters of gasoline. Each hour, the Philippines spends Php 53,000 to treat pollution-related diseases and to compensate for productivity losses. Each hour, 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide is pumped into the air.

Sen. Ralph Recto, lead author of the sustainable transport measure in the senate earlier pleaded to the House to take action. “We appeal to the House leadership to already name their bicameral teams so that both contingents could buckle down to work as early as Monday next week and shepherd its enactment into law with four session days left before election break.”

Recto said “The Senate already named its conferees to the bicameral panel Tuesday night. It’s now the turn of the bigger house.”

In his sponsorship speech in 2011, Senator Recto said “by promoting AFVs, we shield ourselves from the volatility of oil prices, when tantrums of teapot dictators in OPEC countries can cause oil price shocks, or when a small rustle in the Arab spring can send oil prices to winter-time highs.”

The bill passed by the House in March 2012 is a consolidation of several measures authored by Representatives Rufus Rodriguez of Cagayan de Oro City, Maximo Rodriguez of the party-list group Abante Mindanao, Hermilando Mandanas of Batangas, Jose Zubiri III of Bukidnon, Albert Garcia of Bataan, and Ryan Luis Singson of Ilocos Sur. Among other features, the bill exempts the payment of excise taxes and duties for nine years on the manufacture or assembly of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles, including the conversion of vehicles into electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel. It also exempts payment of value-added tax (VAT) for nine years on the importation and sale of raw materials, spare parts, components, and capital equipment used in the manufacture or assembly of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles, including the conversion of vehicles into electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel.

“There’s a small stretch of road left to cover so it’s time to put the pedal to the metal.  This bill is not only about environment-friendly vehicles. It’s about green jobs and energy security,” said Reina Garcia of the energy solutions think-tank, Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities or iCSC. The organization is a partner of PCA.

For media inquiries, please contact Vicky Segovia of Partnership for Clean Air at 631-1329 or 0908-1860191, or Reina Garcia of iCSC at 0917-8131562.

Related news from the office of Senator Recto: http://www.tribune.org/index.php/business/item/9910-palace-attempt-to-kill-2-tax-break-measures-bared