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Saving the planet, one step at a time

Clean energy transportation is good, but nothing beats good, old-fashioned walking.

“Lagi naming sinasabi ang best mode of transport, ni hindi electric jeepney or bisikleta. Walking. Paglalakad,” Red Constantino, executive director at the Institute for Climate Change and Sustainable Cities (ICSC), said in an interview on News to Go on April 22.

According to Constantino, leaders should focus on planning walkable cities. “Gawin mong maayos ang sidewalk, gawin mong pedestrian-friendly ang pagpapaunlad ng mga siyudad, mas madali. Hindi mo kailangan ng technology, kailangan mo lang ng pagpaplano,” he said, noting that this is where many leaders fail.

Constantino noted that in many places, vendors and vehicle owners occupy the sidewalks, which are supposed to be for pedestrians. Meanwhile, local governments in Makati and Marikina are examples of leaders who prioritize pedestrians.

“Kasi para sa pedestrian ‘yan eh. Wala namang nakalagay sa Saligang Batas na enshrined ang parking rights. Bakit mo inuuna ‘yung mga sasakyan at ‘yung karapatan nilang mag park. Para sa mga may kaya ‘yun eh. ‘Yung sidewalk, para sa lahat,” said Constantino.

Technology should not be the priority when it comes to creating solutions, he stressed. Instead, the focus should be on the working class. “Kaya kami, hindi kami gumawa ng electric car. Hindi namin tinulak ‘yung electric private vehicles. Inuna namin ‘yung electric public jeepneys. Kasi ang unang dapat makinabang, working Filipino families,” he said.

eJeepneys: cost- and energy-efficient

Still, it’s important to develop the technology required for sustainable transportation, and Constantino believes the Philippines

has what it takes to produce its own eJeepney parts in a few years. ICSC’s 6th generation eJeepneys are built using mostly Philippine-made parts, but the motors are imported from other Asian countries.

“Sa ngayon, mas nakakamura kapag ‘yung motor mismo na iniimport from Taiwan or China or Korea or Japan, the rest kayang gawin dito eh. And I’m pretty confident, matatalino ang mga kabataan natin ngayon, makakagawa tayo according to scale and according to the right price na accessible na sarili nating motor at controller,” Constantino said.

ICSC is an eJeepney pioneer, with its fleet of colorful, quiet, electric jeepneys plying two routes in Makati.

Constantino explained that ICSC’s work involves both solutions and climate policy. “Long-term. Hindi puwedeng every day, and here and now lang ang inaasikaso. Kinakailangan pagbabago sa governance, paghahanap ng sapat na pondo para sa rural areas. Hindi lang siyudad, kung ‘di ang mga munisipyo rin,” he said.

The eJeepney is just one of the many solutions that are needed to address climate change. “Lahat may solusyon para sa pagbabago ng klima. Tumatama na ito, lumalala, at hindi ito mawawala in the foreseeable future,” Constantino said.

Apart from the routes in Salcedo Village and Legaspi Village in the Makati Central Business District, ICSC is planning to implement more routes in other cities.

“May kausap kaming ilang siyudad. Siguro pagkatapos ng halalan, magsisimula kaming mag-implement niyan,” Constantino said.

He explained that clean transport isn’t just about the environment. While an eJeepney ride costs the same as a diesel jeepney ride, the difference for jeepney operators is in the cost of running the vehicle.

Diesel jeepney operators spend P1,200 for every 100 kilometers. On the other hand, the electric jeepney can run the same distance for between P160 to P200.

“So ang sinasabi namin, yes makakatulong ka sa climate change, pero isipin mo rin. Dagdag ito sa bulsa mo whether operator o tsuper ka,” Constantino said, adding that the eJeepney drivers in Makati have Philhealth, SSS, and Pagibig benefits.

These benefits for the drivers and operators also help improve the traffic situation, Constantino said. “Dahil swelduhan sila, nakakatulong ka pa sa trapiko dahil wala silang incentive na tumigil kahit saan nila gusto,” he said.

While there is still much to be done, Constantino said environmental issues are receiving more attention compared to a decade ago. “Nakikita natin ‘yung epekto ng pangit na governance, at tamang pamamahala. At unti unti, lalaki ‘yan. kapag hindi natuto yung

mga tumatakbong kandidato natin, isang araw gigising sila, wala na sila sa puwesto at hindi na sila tinatangkilik kasi mababa ang kalikasan sa kanilang agenda,” he said.

by Carmela G. Lapeña for GMA News

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