Anti-smoke belching unit sweeps streets of violators
By Jason B. Neola NAGA CITY --- Seeking to reduce air pollution generated by motor vehicles violating the emission standards set by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the City Environment and Natural Resources Office’s anti-smoke belching team returned to the streets last February 28 and March 30, this year, to run after smoke belching automobiles. The team, which is composed of personnel from the City ENRO, manned a roadside monitoring and apprehension checkpoint along the Maharlika Highway in Barangay Concepcion Grande, here, to conduct emission tests by using an opacimeter machine for diesel-fed engines. Jayson T. Vargas, City ENRO’s pollution control officer and officer in charge of pollution control and management division, said his group, the Anti-Smoke Belching Unit (ASBU) was able to flag down 61 motor vehicles during the 2-day operation. Eight of them failed the emission tests as determined by the opacimeter. The machine, which meet the requirements of the national standard (limits and measurement methods for exhaust smoke from compression ignition engine), and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), has the capability to continuously appraise the visible pollutants from the exhaust smoke with measured results directly achieved. Based on DENR’s 6 levels of air quality for suspended particulates, which is categorized into Good, Fair, Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups, Very Unhealthy, Acutely Unhealthy, and Emergency, Naga’s air quality is rated “Good.” Assisting the team are personnel from the DENR-Environment Management Bureau, Naga City Police Office and the Land Transportation Office. The city government which was commended by DENR in past years because of its ordinance and relentless campaign against smoke belchers has been performing the task since year 2000. In previous year, the city government was able to collect fines amounting to P110,000 from violators of anti-smoke belching provisions under Republic Act 8749, also known as the Clean Air Act of 1999. Mayor John G. Bongat, however, said that the major concern of the campaign is not to generate income but to compel the motorists to comply with the Clean Air Act. “We should be happier if we got a lower number of violators as this would mean we have a lesser number of contributors to air pollution,” he said. The penalties imposed by the City ENRO based on RA 8749: a) First offense - a fine not less than 1,000 and not to exceed Two thousand pesos (P2,000); b) Second offense - a fine not less than Two thousand pesos (P2,000) and not to exceed Four thousand pesos (P4,000); and c) Third offense - 1 year suspension of the Motor Vehicle Registration (MVR) and a fine of not less than Three thousand pesos (P3,000) and not more than Six thousand pesos (P6,000). In addition, the driver and operator of the apprehended vehicle will undergo a seminar on pollution control and management conducted by the DOTC. The ASBU is composed of Mayor John G. Bongat, City ENRO head Oscar P. Orozco, Christopher Jhun S. Zantua, Jayson T. Vargas, team leader; Juan S. Paycana Jr. Victor M. Fausto, Edgardo C. Peña, Carlos Sherwin SP. Estanislao, Antonio V. Olarte, Alex San Jose, Eugenio Felin, Marvin Sagun, Alberto Darilay, Pio Samonte, and 3 members of the Naga City Police Office.