The National Environmentally Sustainable Transport (EST) Strategy of the Philippines was formally launched yesterday, May 20, 2011. The formal launch event was held at the Columbus Room of the Discovery Suites along ADB Avenue in Ortigas Center, Pasig City. It was graced by the presence of top government officials including Secretary Jose “Ping” P. De Jesus of the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and Presidential Assistant on Climate Change Elisea “Bebet” Gozun, who was a former Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). The DOTC came full force with Undersecretary for Planning and Policy Ruben Reinoso, Assistant Secretary for Planning George D. Esguerra, Office of Transport Cooperatives Chair Leticia Z. Gorrospe, consultant and former Assistant Secretary Alberto Suansing, and senior technical staff of the DOTC and its line agencies including the Land Transportation Office (LTO) and the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB). The DOTC and the DENR are the national focal agencies for the project and will be expected to lead in the operationalization of the national strategy.
The supporting agencies and organizations were represented by Mr. Choudhury Rudra Mohanty of the United Nations Centre for Regional Development (UNCRD), Ms. Sophie Punte of the Clean Air Initiative for Asian Cities (CAI-Asia), and Mr. Akio Isomata, Minister of the Embassy of Japan to the Philippines, who represented his country’s Ministry of Environment. Development agencies and banks were also present with representatives from the World Bank (WB), the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). Also present were stakeholders led by the Partnership for Clean Air (PCA), Philippines – Global Road Safety Partnership (PGRSP), and the Firefly Brigade, and participants from local government units led by Quezon City and Marikina City. The national collaborating center was well represented by the study team from the National Center for Transportation Studies (NCTS) of the University of the Philippines Diliman.
The formal launch even began with the Opening Remarks from the UNCRD delivered by Mr. Mohanty and was followed by a Message from DOTC Sec. De Jesus. The formal messages were followed by a presentation of the highlights of the national strategy by D. Jose Regin F. Regidor, NCTS Director. Afterwards, a panel discussion with the theme “Operationalization of EST in Support of Sustainable Development in the Philippines.” The discussion was facilitated by Ms. Punte and Mr. Herbert Fabian of CAI-Asia. Panel members included DOTC Asst. Sec. Esguerra, WB Lead Transport Economist Baher El-Hifnawi, ADB GEF focal person Bruce Dunn, and Mactan Cebu International Airport Manager Nigel Paul C. Villarete, who is also a former City Planning Coordinator of Cebu City and who is an advocate of Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) in the Philippines. The formal launch event concluded with congratulatory messages from the Government of Japan and the Presidential Assistant for Climate Change, followed by a photo op for all in attendance that day.
The messages and the panel discussion were one in conveying a challenge to all stakeholders to use the framework provided by the national strategy to come up with action plans and implement these in order to realize sustainable transport in the country. It was also clear from the proceedings of the event that there should be a strong, collaborative effort among national agencies, local government units, NGOs, and development agencies if EST is to be operationalized and for programs and projects to succeed. Significant impacts would then be realized and perhaps lead to the alleviation of transport and traffic problems and their derivatives. It was emphasized that everyone should carefully consider the co-benefits that may be reaped from the implementation of EST.
For more on the national strategy including the reports and other resources, all these are available from the NESTS Web Portal hosted by the NCTS.