Go to Top

Jump-starting the alternative fuels incentives bill

Clean air. The road to that starts with cars with lower emissions and will not add to Metro Manila’s air pollution.

Manila, Philippines — Clean air. The road to that starts with cars with lower emissions and will not add to Metro Manila’s air pollution. Consider the fact that 80 percent of air pollutants come from Metro Manila’s two million vehicles! An important piece of legislation that will jump-start our journey to clean air is presently on neutral gear at the House of Representatives.

When the 16th Congress opens on Monday, July 20, clean air may be given a fresh start if the Alternative Fuel Incentives Bill will be given more than a gentle push to start its journey.

An example of how that can give us clean air is the hybrid buses along Buendia and Kalayaan which have been operating since May 2013. Emission is 90 percent lesser than an ordinary bus while accommodating the same amount of people (some 70 passengers), and charging less.

Well, the bill that will push a wider clean air scenario will be re-filed at the start of the 16th Congress on July 22, sponsored again by Senator Ralph Recto. The bill is “an act providing incentives for the manufacture, assembly, conversion and importation of electric, hybrid and other alternative fuel vehicles.”

How far will it go? Your guess is as good as mine.

A brief background. Both Houses passed the Alternative Fuels Incentives Bill on January 29 2013. The Senate refers to this bill as SB2856 while the House of Representatives version is HB05460 – both houses drafted it in 2011 for their reading and amendments. It is more commonly known as the “Recto Bill”

The House version exempts manufacturers, assemblers, converters and importers from excise tax and duties, and value added tax for importation and sale of raw materials, spare parts, components and capital equipment related to vehicles using alternative fuel, hybrid and electric technology.

The Senate’s is similar but adds incentives for vehicle owners, including exemption from LTO’s Motor Vehicle User’s Charge, priority registration and issuance of license plate number, “coding” exemption, free parking from new establishments and approval-priority for alternative fuel PUV franchises.

It breezed through the three readings in both chambers.

The House of Representatives deferred to the Department of Finance’s (DOF) request to wait while they draft the “Fiscal Incentives Bill,” which will grant incentives and benefits to both foreign and local investors from all industries – not just automotive. This bill will also be filed at the 16th Congress.

Whatever bill gets passed into a law should really be fine. The big question is, how long will it take?

Tackling all the other industries, not just automotive, will require triple – maybe quadruple the man-hours and longer deliberation. Philip Apostol of Green Frog Zero Emissions Transport, which operates the only fleet of hybrid buses in the Philippines, adds that the government should focus on smaller sectors because DOFs Herculean endeavor to tackle all industries “will die from argument from everyone.”

The emissions standard of all diesel-powered buses in the Philippines is a very out-dated Euro 1,

some Euro 2. I may be spitballing here but diesel-powered jeepneys, I’m almost 100 percent sure are Euro 1.

mb 2013_07_20_08_29100

Clean air. The road to that starts with cars with lower emissions and will not add to Metro Manila’s air pollution.

Reina Garcia of the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities, which operate a fleet of e-jeepneys plying the Makati CBD says that “the World Health Organization confirmed that diesel fumes can cause lung cancer.”

We can go on and

on with every bit of information about how polluted Metro Manila is and how harmful it is, not just to our health, but even to the environment and everything else that depends on it, but the point is moot.

As mentioned earlier, the hybrid buses seen along Buendia and Kalayaan has 90 percent less emission than an ordinary bus. Yet it charges less for a ride –P20 from Buendia Tramo to Kalayaan C5 in an air-conditioned bus, P15 if you a 10-ride card.

If you’re wondering why the fare is ultra-affordable well it’s because fuel accounts for 40 percent of a regular bus’ expense, while for a hybrid? Only 20 percent. That’s why they can pass the savings off to the commuters while helping the environment.

E-jeepneys run an average of 100 kilometres on an 8-hour full charge. The fare is the same as regular jeepneys but Reina adds that “e-jeepneys do not have tailpipe emissions. They run on electricity, the costs of which are less volatile than fossil fuels, and more importantly can be sourced from renewable energy such as solar, wind, biomass and biogas. They require less maintenance; battery upkeep is key and we have developed procedures and checklists for this.”

Regular buses cost roughly P5 million while hybrid buses cost an estimated P5.5 million. But with the fuel savings, the difference is covered in just two years.

When an incentives bill is passed, Philip hopes that import duties and VAT will be taken out. That’s a 27-percent discount making the price of a hybrid bus the same as a regular one.

For e-jeepneys, an incentives law will attract business-types from Japan, Korea and Taiwan to invest in E-Jeepney manufacturing facilities in the Philippines creating green job opportunities for Filipinos.

Local auto manufacturers, distributors and importers along with the general motoring and ing public will greatly benefit as well. Toyota’s Prius, Prius-C and Lexus’ LX, RX and CT200 are hybrids available in the market right now but at a premium price. Honda is gearing up for the CRZ in August while Mitsubishi is studying how the i-MiEV (Mitsubishi innovative Electric Vehicle) can make a splash in the local market.

If the VAT, import and excise duties are waived, there could be a minimum 30 percent reduction in the price of hybrids says an industry insider. But until the final version has gone through a Bicameral Committee is it still unsure as to what properties of the pricing will be altered or waived.

The Alternative Fuel Incentives Bill’s co-authors are willing to support it and do it all over again. Senator Miriam Santiago’s office indicated as much while Senator Bongbong Marcos considers green technology a huge part of his legislative agenda.

If for any reason the DOF isn’t ready with “Fiscal Incentives Bill”, let’s all hope they do not become

the stumbling block for the “Alternative Fuel Incentives Bill.”

This is an extremely important piece of legislation that positively affects the country on so many levels.

It is a win-win situation for everyone including the environment.

The 16th Congress opens July 22, 2013. Let’s hope it’s the kind of fresh start that leads to cleaner air for us and future generations.

Meanwhile, hybrid vehicles have become a “fashion statement” among celebrities in the U.S. — Leonardo DiCaprio drove to the Oscars in a Prius while Tom Hanks drove a RAV4 EV. Mick Jagger and Johnny Depp prefer Civic Hybrids while the Lantern himself, Ryan Reynolds, goes “green” by riding a Leaf. They’re just a few of the many who use some 2.5 million hybrids and close to 90,000 EVs in the US.

By Eric Tipan, Motoring Section Contributor, Manila Bulletin

Published: July 21, 2013

Featured Image: (c) Gigie Cruz-Sy/iCSC

, , , , ,