Clean air advocates form anti-air pollution group

MANILAVarious clean air advocacy groups on Wednesday banded together to push giving more "teeth" on government programs for clean air and environmental protection, with the launch of the "Health Care for Cleaner Air Alliance."

During the launching in Quezon City, advocacy groups, led by Health Care Without Harm (HCWH), said the alliance aims to formalize the discussions they have done in the past years in pushing for the implementation of laws against air pollutants.

"The alliance will tackle the need to improve air quality standard," HCWH executive director Ramon San Pascual said.

He said the group's will then be used to press different government agencies such as Department of Environment and Natural Resources to revisit the Clean Air Act and Solid Waste Management Act.

To date, San Pascual said there is no sufficient action to strictly implement the provisions of the environmental protection and preservation laws.

Choose Health Energy Ambassador and Vegan X Movement founder Dr. Stef dela Cruz said their alliance will also push for the regulation of motor vehicles and industries, including energy sector, that contribute to the worsening environmental condition, such as the country's dependency on fossil fuels.

"All sectors, including health, should start working together to ensure steady transition of our country towards renewable energy and away from highly polluting and health-damaging fossil energy like coal," said dela Cruz.

While the group does not have an exact figure on the economic loss that results from treating illnesses caused by air pollution, Dexter Galban of the Health from Youth Force in the Philippines estimated that the losses are higher than the medical spending to diseases contracted from tobacco smoking.

Galban, a registered nurse, said economic expenditures due to tobacco smoking data range between PHP218 billion and PHP261 billion.

National Youth Commission (NYC) commissioner for Visayas Rhea Penaflor, head of the NYC Health Committee, said that they will tap Sangguniang Kabataan Officials to include in their programs for decreasing air pollution.

Citing that the Filipino youth are highly vulnerable to climate change, she said it will be a great help to environmental advocacies to involve the 30 million youth in the country.

"Our NYC should work on this and this will contribute a lot to the alliance today," said Penaflor, who also heads the NYC health committee.

She said since the focus area of the Philippine Youth Development Plan 2017-2020 is participation, they want the young people especially the Sangguniang Kabataan (youth council) to be in the forefront in crafting solutions that will promote environmental protection.

She added that they will mobilize SK federation presidents to develop platforms and programs that can be implemented in the local level.

Also present during the launching of the alliance were representatives from Philippine Medical Association, EcoWaste Coalition, and Healthy Energy Initiative. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency