2022 PH presidential race

Robredo: Reducing emissions should not leave jeep drivers, energy sector behind

Mara Cepeda
Robredo: Reducing emissions should not leave jeep drivers, energy sector behind

CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY. Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo discusses her platforms in a press conference held at the Sorsogon City Gymnasium in Sorsogon province on October 29, 2021.

Charlie Villegas/OVP

'Hindi siya puwedeng pag-usapan na energy versus the environment, kasi para sa akin hindi siya magkalaban,' says presidential aspirant and VP Leni Robredo

Presidential aspirant and Vice President Leni Robredo wants a holistic approach in combatting climate change so that sectors that would be affected by efforts to reduce the country’s carbon emissions, like jeepney drivers and the energy sector, would not be left out in the cold.

The Philippine opposition leader gave a glimpse of her climate change policy on Friday, October 29, when asked by reporters in Sorsogon City to expound on her position on the public utility vehicle (PUV) modernization program, and how she plans to lower electricity prices if she becomes president. 

Robredo also made the statement just two days before 19 Filipino government officials are set to fight for the Philippines’ interests in the high-stakes negotiations at the United Nations climate summit in Glasgow, which starts on Sunday, October 31.

Efficient energy sources are a primary concern for residents of the Bicol region, where Sorsogon is located and which is considered to be Robredo’s bailiwick. Bicolanos have long been contending with high power rates despite having their own geothermal power plant.

Robredo argued the issues of energy efficiency and the environment are intertwined, so addressing these concerns should not be done in silos. 

“Hindi siya puwedeng pag-usapan na energy versus the environment, kasi para sa akin hindi siya magkalaban. So dapat pag-usapan na, again, mas holistic na approach,” Robredo said.

(We can’t talk about it as if it were energy versus the environment because, to me, there’s no dichotomy there. Again, we should talk about it in terms of a holistic approach.)

She plans to create a road map designed to lower electricity prices not just in Bicol but across the country, too. 

Robredo said this should be comprehensive and must include even the power generation and distribution firms that would be affected should the country shift to more renewable sources of energy. 

“Ang aking programa para dito, mag-usap-usap lahat – mag-usap-usap lahat from power generation to power distribution. Pero pati iyong environment kailangan i-take into consideration para kapag gumawa ng road map, mas comprehensive na talaga,” said the Vice President. 

(My program here is for everyone to sit down and talk – from power generation to power distribution. But even the environment should be taken into consideration in making a road map so it’s comprehensive.)

A 2010 government inventory of the the Philippines’ greenhouse gas emissions showed the energy industry and transportation are the top two sources of emissions, contributing 42% and 31.3% of emissions, respectively.

‘Listen to jeepney drivers’

Robredo also said she agrees that jeepneys and other public transportation vehicles should be modernized so they would be more climate-friendly.  

But in doing so, she said the government must work with the affected drivers to help look for their alternative sources of income. 

“Kung magdedesisyon tayo na i-eradicate na o alisin na o ma-i-phase out na iyong mga jeepney into a more modernized at saka more climate-friendly na mga klase ng jeep, kailangan i-capacitate natin iyong mga mawawalan ng trabaho because of that o mawawalan ng kita because of that,” Robredo said. 

(If we are going to decide to eradicate or phase out jeepneys to be replaced with more climate-friendly ones, we must capacitate those who would lose their jobs because of that.)

The Vice President said drivers are not necessarily against the PUV modernization program per se, but they are having trouble meeting the expensive and “prohibitive” requirements needed to modernize their jeepneys. 

“Sana bumalik na sa drawing table at pag-usapan. Pinakinggan sana sila: ‘Ano bang arrangement iyong kakayanin niyo? Ano bang arrangement iyong makakasabay kayo?'” said Robredo. 

(We should go back to the drawing table. Let’s listen to them and ask: “What arrangement can you work with? What arrangement can you keep up with?”)

The Vice President earlier backed proposed reforms to help PUV drivers adjust to life under the coronavirus pandemic.

She said there must be a shift to a service contracting system, where PUV drivers are given a fixed monthly salary. Contactless forms of payment should be adopted as well. – Rappler.com

Mara Cepeda

Mara Cepeda specializes in stories about politics and local governance. She covers the Office of the Vice President, the Senate, and the Philippine opposition. She is a 2021 fellow of the Asia Journalism Fellowship and the Reham al-Farra Memorial Journalism Fellowship of the UN. Got tips? Email her at mara.cepeda@rappler.com or tweet @maracepeda.