Las Piñas City Mayor Warns Barangay Leaders About Failure To Clear Their Areas of Obstructions

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The many heads of the barangays in the meeting spearheaded by Las Piñas City Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar (facing them from the background). (photo credit: Shawnette Ramos)

Recently the City of Las Piñas made waves in the national news. This was because Mayor Imelda “Mel” Aguilar issued a warning to the leaders of twenty barangays of extreme consequence if they fail to clear the respective areas of obstructions and structures that are illegal.

During a meeting held on August 1, the mayor met with the barangay chairpersons from the city’s two districts and laid down the City Government’s plan action to rid all roads and sidewalks of illegal vendors, illegally parked vehicles and overlapping structures, including those unfinished excavations by various service utilities.

“You will be accountable to me if you fail to implement the rules that endanger the lives of our fellow Las Piñero,” Mayor Aguilar told the barangay leaders.

Along with the other Metro Manila city mayors, Mayor Aguilar committed to the 60-day period given by Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo Año to clear the metro roads of obstructions.

But prior to the DILG directive, the mayor already convened Task Force Kaayusan last month which immediately conducted clearing operations in the city to address concerns on traffic and road hazards. The task force is composed of the Estate Management and Development Office (EMDO), City Engineering Office, the local Philippine National Police, the Business Permit and Licensing Office (BPLO), and spearheaded by the Mayor’s Office.

“These obstructions must be permanently rid from our main road, which is the Alabang-Zapote Road, as well as the inner roads must likewise be cleared of any obstacles. Let us give back the sidewalks to the pedestrians and the roads to motorists,” the mayor said.

She also requested the City Council, through Vice Mayor April Aguilar-Nery (the mayor’s daughter), to review the existing ordinances on obstruction and public order and safety.

Overall these developments reflect the City Government of Las Piñas response to the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte during his recent State of the Nation Address (SONA) that public roads used for private ends should be reclaimed. Duterte also ordered DILG Secretary Año to suspend mayors or governors who refuse to comply.

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Parañaque still has no ordinance to legitimize electric vehicles for public transportation

 

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On display at the grounds of Parañaque City Hall was this large solar-powered electric tricycle (e-trike). The irony is that Parañaque itself has no law to legitimize electric vehicles for public transportation.

The love and care for the natural environment is often present in the minds of people who manage the city government. Really nobody wants to live in a city filled with scattered garbage, lots of air pollution and poor drainage.

An extension of the care for the environment is the focus on the use of electric vehicles which generate much less noise and much less air pollution. Here in the Southern portion of Metro Manila, the cities of Muntinlupa and Las Pinas respectively have laws that legitimized the use of electric vehicles for public transportation purposes.

This means that commuters can choose to ride a jeepney or a tricycle that runs on electric power whenever they are available in public. When they do ride an e-vehicle, there is much less noise and air pollution created by their ride. Potentially more e-vehicles replacing those gasoline/diesel-burning vehicles can bring down air pollution and improve the quality of air in the city.

Recently the Department of Energy (DOE) donated 150 electric tricycle units to the City of Muntinlupa and 100 electric tricycle units to the City of Las Pinas (which subsequently turned them over to local tricycle operators).

As for the nearby City of Parañaque……ZERO!

Considering the huge population of Parañaque and the City Government’s strong advocacy of environmental care and city cleanliness under the leadership of incumbent mayor Edwin Olivarez, it is weird that nothing has been done to legitimize the use of e-vehicles for public transportation.

I was at Parañaque City Hall on January 23 and during my visit I checked thoroughly with officials there to verify if there is any existing law (or city ordinance) that would make public transportation with electric vehicles happen.

As it turned out, officials confirmed to me that no such ordinance has been approved until now.

What is even more disturbing, as I kept on digging for answers, was the confirmation that there is not even a draft proposal submitted for legislation!

For as long as no city ordinance has been approved to legalize the use of e-vehicles for public transportation, Parañaque’s streets (including those inside villages) will be occupied by fossil fuel-guzzling jeepneys, buses and tricycles that are not only making the air dirty but also remain noisy and even unsafe and uncomfortable (due to outdated vehicular designs) for commuters to ride.

This also means that no village administrator can just establish and fully operate its own line of electric tricycles within the city. Back in 2016 in BF Homes, the BF Federation of Homeowner Associations, Inc. (BFFHAI) launched its line of electric tricycles with mayor Olivarez and vice mayor Rico Golez as special guests. Because they were in Parañaque (which has a huge jurisdiction of BF Homes subdivision) and there was no ordinance to legalize the use of electric vehicles for public transportation within the city, the BFFHAI’s e-trikes were not accepted by the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB) and they were not fully operated. As such, those electric tricycles got wasted and was limited to being parked at the side of the BF Homes clubhouse along Elsie Gatches street. Because pictures of those parked electric tricycles became public viewed, the federation quietly had them removed.

Until now Parañaque remains behind Muntinlupa and Las Pinas when it comes to using technology to improve public transportation and reducing air and noise pollution at the same time. For the past few years, Muntinlupa has electric jeepneys on public roads and some electric tricycles serving villagers. In Las Pinas, the number of electric tricycles serving local communities is slowly growing which is the result of their City Council and Mayor approving the “E-trike Ordinance” (City Ordinance Number 1536-18, Series of 2018) on May 28, 2018. Back to Parañaque, no legislation means no progressive change will happen.

It is notable that Parañaque lost its edge when it comes to city competitiveness nationwide. According to the Cities and Municipalities Competitiveness Index 2018 released during the 6th Regional Competitiveness Summit, Parañaque ranked only #21. Even provincial cities like Bacolod and Naga are way ahead at numbers 9 and 10 respectively. With these mentioned, Parañaqu

After finding out the truth about the lack of a law for the public transportation use of e-vehicles in Parañaque, I walked out of the building and as I moved on further on City Hall grounds, I saw two electric tricycle units (made by Star 8) on display at an environment-oriented exhibit. I pictured the more elaborate e-trike (the one above).

Wow. Think about that. Electric tricycles on display in a city that does not even allow electric vehicles to be used to serve commuters publicly.

Before I forget, let me state that the City Government was celebrating the 18th anniversary of Republic Act Number 9003 which is the national law on ecological solid waste management which itself emphasizes care and responsibility of the environment.

Now when will Parañaque’s officials start working to legitimize e-vehicles for public transportation? If you are a certified city resident who wants to see those fuel-burning public utility vehicles be replaced gradually with e-vehicles, consider taking time out to write letters to the city government officials. Even though there is an upcoming democratic exercise in the form of a local election on May 2019, communicating with your officials is still recommended.

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