Missing P86.7M clean air fund

ONE of the great benefits of holding forums is that the delegates get to learn many things from each other through intelligent discussions and exchanges of new ideas and concepts.

And this is what exactly happened when La Liga Policy Institute (La Liga) held a forum that focused on the government’s campaign to combat the worsening air pollution situation in the Philippines.

It appeared that despite all the noise about protecting the environment, the government has still failed to fully utilize available funds that are supposed to be available to improve air quality, and develop environment-friendly renewable energy sources.

Roland Cabigas, managing director of La Liga said government resources such as the Air Quality Management Fund (AQMF) and the Renewable Energy Trust Fund (RETF) can be used to help improve air quality and promote renewable energy, two of the most pressing issues the country is currently facing.

As we all know, the National Capital Region has the worst air pollution in the country and that the air we breathe in Metro Manila is posing great dangers to its more than six million residents and visitors.

These points were raised during the recent “Forum on Tracking the Status and Progress of the AQMF and the RETF” which was attended by British Ambassador Stephen Lillie and officials from all concerned government offices.

It turned out that the Clean Air Act of 1999 has allotted fund from the Road Users Tax that was collected by the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for the purpose of combating air pollution and promoting cleaner and healthier environment.

However, instead of using the fund that has already reached P234 million as of 2009, Cabigas and his group discovered that some P86.7 million is missing from the same.

If true, the discrepancy of  the amounts is too substantial to be ignored and that concerned agencies in charge of the funds have a lot of explaining to do.

This is a disappointing development in as much as it highlighted the fact that the ugly tentacles of corruption have already invaded almost every nook and corner of the government.

And if the government especially President Noynoy Aquino would not act swiftly, our campaign to clean and save the environment is doomed to vanish in the thin dirty air.

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