By Macon Araneta

Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI) President Leo Olarte announced the rolling out of their project called the One Million Electric Bicycles (E-sikleta) Project for the New Normal Philippines. 

“Due to its zero-carbon emission advantage, we have long advocated for an effective and sustainable electricity driven transportation system for the Philippines. Our common clean air agenda and goals mandate this action,” said  Olarte, also a past president of the Philippine Medical Association. 

He noted  that despite the strictures of the lockdowns it also resulted to cleaner air in the cities. 

“We want to retain this positive environmental effect of the lockdowns but sadly as these lockdowns are relaxed, the major source of deadly air pollution in our urban centers (smoke belching motor vehicles) returns to our roads and so will the other killer (air pollution),” said Olarte

“We are pushing for this very cheap, clean, alternative and social or physical distancing compliant mode of transportation nationwide for three urgent reasons: our clean air agenda, the immediate economic recovery of the Philippines and to help win the war versus Covid-19 by applying strict social distancing modality in transporting our workforce to their jobs nationwide. Now, in this altruistic project that we are rolling out together with our partners from various private and public sectors of society our common campaign battle cry is very simple: Sa Pagbangon ng Bayan E-sikleta ang Kailangan,” Olarte declared.  

Olarte added, “This project is not a dole out. It is actually an empowerment program that we created to help the business sector revive the country’s economy by providing their workforce a very cheap, sustainable, affordable, clean and social distancing-compliant transport from home to work and vice versa. “

“How can our economy quickly recover if our workforce is stifled by their inability to report to their jobs on time due to a significantly reduced carrying capacity of our public transportation system (currently using less than 25 percent of its full capacity) due to our government’s stringent regulation on social distancing in order to save lives?”

Olarte said the shortage came about after Metro Manila was placed in a more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) status this month allowing certain economic activities to resume resulting into people eagerly emerging from their prolonged lockdowns at home.  

Olarte revealed they are now coordinating with CAPMI’s 2018 Clean Air Champion Sec. Arthur Tugade of the Department of Transportation for the crucial government regulatory elements needed to support the altruistic project in the new normal. 

“We are also working with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources Task Force: Tayo and Kalikasan for the environmental aspect of the program. We intend to work soon with the Department of Trade and Industry on innovative ways to easily make available to the general business sector this very cheap and clean alternative mode of transportation for our workforce nationwide.” 

Equally important, he said, they want to work with the Department of the Interior and Local Government to make the project more viable in the countryside. “Lastly, we wish to partner also with the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) in training (perhaps re- training) all our bicycle riders nationwide in the proper and safe ways on how to properly operate a bicycle in our public roads.” 

“With TESDA’s support we can professionalize bicycle usage and make riding it safer for everybody”.