Message of Senator Loren Legarda
Launch of Bayanihan sa Daan Awards
27 November 2014 – Kalayaan Hall, Malacañan Palace
Everyday, Filipinos, especially those living and working in Metro Manila have to spend an hour or two just to go to work. On rainy days, it could even take longer. The same length of time is spent on the way home from work.
The horrendous traffic that we all experience, especially in Metro Manila, is costly, time-consuming and unsafe. The solution does not seem to be the widening of roads or the construction of more flyovers, because over time, new roads would just be filled with new cars.
A report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) stated that the transport sector contributed 27% of the greenhouse gas emissions worldwide in 2010 and this could double by 2050. Heavy traffic is one culprit because the longer a car stays on the road, the more it contributes to GHG emissions.
Meanwhile, an ADB study shows that transport sector emissions accounted for 30% of air pollution in the Philippines and in Metro Manila, about 80%.
The World Health Organization has reported that in 2012 alone, around seven million people died as a result of air pollution exposure.
The current traffic situation in the metro veers away from our goal of resilient and sustainable development as it contributes not only to climate change but also to an unhealthy and unsafe environment for our people.
As part of my advocacy to promote resilience and climate change mitigation, I have been promoting the shift to a low-carbon lifestyle. Rethinking our mode of transportation is one of the crucial steps towards this initiative.
We need to promote mass rail, human-powered transport and pedestrianization. We should start venturing into transport electrification and energy efficiency. Walking, biking, taking public transport, and carpooling are energy and cost-efficient transport modes that we should always consider whenever possible.
Thus, roads should be made walkable and pedestrian-friendly. Many highly-urbanized and great cities in the world are walkable—London, Melbourne, Seattle, to name a few. Sidewalks and bicycle lanes should also be built to encourage use of these modes of transport.
On this note I laud the Bayanihan sa Daan Team for promoting a paradigm shift from the motor vehicle-based transportation system to a multi-modal system, wherein people are not dependent on their own motorized vehicles every time they go out, instead, they can choose different modes of transportation depending on their needs—walking or biking for short distances, and safe, reliable, inexpensive and convenient public transportation system for long distance trips.
I know that it would not be an easy task to convince every Filipino to adopt this concept. As in all things revolutionary, as when we had only begun to talk about climate change, people did not understand. Even when I repeatedly called for a change in mindset from focusing only on disaster response to prioritizing disaster risk reduction and resilience, people only understood what I was talking about when disasters like Ondoy, Sendong, Pablo and Yolanda happened.
It is not easy to promote an idea that for many is too idealistic, but with the right agenda, strong will to effect change, persistence and an effective information and education campaign, we will be successful, I hope sooner than later.
With the concept of Bayanihan we may just be able to capture the interest and the heart of Filipinos to support this initiative.
I wish to congratulate our thought and action leaders who were recognized today for going the extra mile to effect positive change, particularly in thinking of ways to decongest road traffic.
I salute Atty. Tony Oposa and the whole Bayanihan sa Daan Team for taking initiatives to build safer, resilient and sustainable communities for Filipinos.
Thank you and good afternoon.