MANILA, Philippines – During the Commission on Elections vice presidential debate on Sunday, March 20, the lone medical professional among vice presidential candidates proposed sustainable transport policies to respond to the rising oil prices dealing a blow to the economy.
Willie Ong, the doctor running mate of Manila Mayor and presidential candidate Isko Moreno, said promoting forms of transportation not reliant on fuel would give Filipinos safe and viable options to save money.
“Kailangan din nating magtipid. Kung puwede mayroon tayong bike lanes, walang gasolina ‘yan,” he said, during a portion for rejoinders after moderator Ruth Cabal asked what solutions VP bets would propose for addressing the higher price of goods brought by rising oil prices.
(We need to save up. If we can have bike lanes, that form of transportation does not require gas.)
Philippine cities can be more friendly to pedestrians to encourage walking instead of relying on motor vehicles running on gas.
“Mga cities po, gawin nating walkable. Ngayon, mahirap maglakad papunta kahit sa isang kilometro lang. Hindi rin friendly sa mga PWDs (persons with disabilities) itong mga daanan natin. At puwede ‘rin ‘yong mass transit, mas makakatipid tayo doon,” said Ong.
(We can make our cities walkable. Now, it’s hard to walk even for one kilometer. The streets are not PWD-friendly. We can also invest in mass transport, consumers can save on costs.)
Ong backed up his fellow vice-presidential candidates who called for the country to make more use of renewable energy – like solar or hydroelectric, wind, and geothermal energy.
Cut oil tax, boost healthcare
Before mentioning those climate-friendly policies, Ong’s short-term and mid-term solutions to higher gasoline prices involved Moreno’s proposal to halve oil and electricity taxes and help all parts of the Philippines safely fully reopen their economies.
Slashing oil and electricity taxes would immediately provide relief to the wallets of consumers as it would mean a reduction in their expenses and bills.
Meanwhile, local economies that cannot completely reopen because of gaps in their COVID-19 healthcare would be greatly boosted by more hospitals, said Ong.
“They can’t open to Alert Level 1 because the moment there is even just a small rise in cases, their hospitals get filled up already. So we return to the problem. We need to solve the pandemic first to resolve the economic problems,” said Ong in Filipino. – Rappler.com