Promotion of Low Carbon Urban Transport Systems in the Philippines

Thomas M. Orbos
Policy and Regulatory Specialist

IV. Results and Analysis

In the Deliverable 2 of this project, a gap analysis was conducted to document and understand the challenges encountered in the promotion and implementation of EST. Amongst identified include the inadequacy of policies and programs amidst existing policies in the country, particularly on emerging technologies on the use of electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrid vehicles. Despite the number of enacted and filed policies in terms of promotion of low carbon emission, the need to harmonize and update the existing is seen as a major challenge; pending proposed bills in House of Representatives. Moreover, the overlapping and unclear delineation of jurisdiction, mandate and responsibilities on low carbon transport among government agencies needs improvement towards inter-agency coordination and collaboration. Alas, the lack of effective communication strategies resulted in misinformed public on the mind shift of Filipinos for transportation development.

With the attempt to address the above-mentioned gaps, the researcher rolled out questions through a questionnaire sent via emails, virtual meetings, and validated responses through the review of secondary data. The following are the results:

  1. Summary
    1. Despite the number of issuances made by the DOTr and its attached agencies through DOs and MCs, particularly on the guidelines on the registration and operation of EVs is still pending. On January 23, 2020, the LTO released a public advisory that the administrative order relative to the classification, registration, or recording and operation of all types of electric motor vehicles. Based on the responses gathered, the following are the existing laws/EO/issuances that mandates the DOTr and its attached agencies, related to the project:
    2. Table 1: List of Law/EO/Issuances related to low carbon transport

      Law/EO/Issuances Mandate to the Agency
      DOTr Department Order No. 2017-11, “Omnibus Guidelines on the Planning and Identification of Public Road Transportation Services and Franchise Issuance” Introduced reforms in granting of franchises by implementing new rules in planning routes and improving standards for operators and vehicles;
      Providing set of guidelines for franchise issuance including the requirement for Local Public Transport Route Plan (LPTRP) prepared by concerned LGUs. LPTRP for inter-regional routes to be prepared by DOTr.
      Executive Order No. 174, “Institutionalizing the Philippine Greenhouse Gas Inventory Management and Reporting System” DOTr as the Lead agency for the transport sector’s GHG inventory
      DOTr DO 2018-001, “Institutionalization of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Inventory Team of the Transport Sector” Creation of GHG Inventory Team for the transport sector to implement GHG inventory management and reporting system
      NEDA Board Resolution No. 5 (s. 2017), “Approving the National Transport Policy” Setting direction of and parameters for the integrated development and regulation of the Philippine transport sector;

      DOTr mandates involve (1) Resource sharing for local transport initiatives, (2) Establishment and management of transportation database system, among others.

      Republic Act No. 8749, “The Clean Air Act and its Related Issuances” Register emission compliant vehicles and apprehend those which are not that are operated along the roads.
      DOTr DO No. 2018-019, “An order privatizing the Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) through authorization”

      LTO Memorandum Circular No. 2018-2158, “Guidelines for the Authorization of Private Motor Vehicle Inspection Centers”

      Ensure that only roadworthy and emission compliant vehicles are registered with the LTO
    3. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic in the country, EVs are already used in selected routes in the country. The LTFRB has approved 26 routes wherein pure EVs are used public utility jeepneys to transport passengers. A total of 19 transport operators from seven (7) regions with 26 routes has a daily passenger ridership capacity of 40,736 were benefiting from the project. Attached as Annex R is the detailed list of LTFRB approved franchises using EVs as PUJs.
    4. Table 2: Summary of routes using EV per region

      Region # of Transport Operators # of Routes # of EV Units Passenger Ridership per day
      NCR 6 6 81 3,503
      Region 2 1 1 10 920
      Region 3 1 1 15 150
      Region 7 2 5 110 16,940
      Region 8 3 6 81 15,620
      Region 12 4 5 37 1,689
      CARAGA 2 2 20 1,914
      TOTAL 19 26 354 40,736
    5. The NEDA Board Resolution No. 5 series of 2017, “Approving the National Transport Policy”, sets direction and parameters for the integrated development and regulation of the Philippine transport sector. The resolution resolved the recurring issue on overlapping or conflicting functions or possess both regulatory and operating functions. The DOTr was mandated to closely work with other transport agencies to ensure that all transport modes are integrated and intermodal, even those that fall within the mandates of other agencies. Part of the harmonization is the implementation of the following projects in line with or related to low carbon transport:
    6. Table 3: List of projects related to low carbon transport

      Project Name Short Description
      Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) – Fleet Modernization component Use of electric vehicles or vehicles utilizing alternative fuel. It requires all modern Public Utility Vehicle (PUV) units to have a Euro 4 (or better) engine or to use electric, solar, or alternative fuels for a cleaner emission.
      Operationalization of PMVIC Ensuring that vehicles undergo rigid roadworthiness and emission compliance testing prior to renewal of registration;

      The establishment of PMVICs is deemed very necessary.

      Approval of the guidelines on the registration and operation of EVs Crafting of the draft guidelines started in 2018, which harmonizes and updates existing issuances to be responsive to ever-advancing technology of EVs.

      Attached as Annex E is the list of programs and projects related to low carbon transport.

    7. Majority of projects implemented relative to low carbon transport are significantly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Activity adjustments were made to ensure compliance to health protocols and minimize health risks. The respondents were asked to identify the projects according to prioritization.
    8. Table 4: List of related projects affected by COVID-19 according to prioritization

      Project Name Date Started Expected Completion Date
      Public Utility Vehicle Modernization Program (PUVMP) 2017 Full implementation by 2020
      Motor Vehicle Inspection System (MVIS) 2019 2021
      EDSA Greenways 2018 2023
      Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) Line 1 Quezon Avenue August 2020 2023
      Cebu Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) March 2020 May 2022
    9. As presented in table 3, major projects were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. A recalibrated plan on the promotion of low carbon urban transport was seen as a window of opportunity to cope with the delays. The participants were asked to identify other national agencies that they think should be involved in the crafting of a “COVIDized Action Plan”. The recommended agencies and proposed roles are presented in the table below:
    10. Table 5: List of recommended national agencies to be involved in the crafting of “COVIDized Action Plan” related to low carbon transport

      Recommended Agencies Proposed Role
      Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Issuance of necessary environmental protection-related permits to low carbon transport
      – Inclusion of Ecosystem-Based Adaptation concept that will address ecosystems resilience and ecological integrity
      Department of Science and Technology – Research and development of improvements of GHG emissions
      Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Philippine Standards – Development and issuance of national standards on low carbon transportation
      Department of Energy – Assistance in the promotion of alternative fuels to the transport sector
      Department of Health – Health and Safety Standards
      Department of Labor and Employment – Occupational Safety and Health Center – Conduct of research, training, information dissemination, and technical services related to occupational safety and health in workplaces.
      Department of Interior and Local Government – Issuance of necessary guidance and technical assistance to LGUs
      Metro Manila Development Authority – Traffic management
      Philippine Information Agency – Efficient flow of public information
  2. Analysis:
  3. a. Enabling Environment: Legal and Policy Framework

    The presence of policies and projects is a manifestation of the DOTr’s sincerity to improve the transport system and reduce GHG emissions. There are 20 existing laws/EO/issuances that mandates different government agencies to attain the goals in line with low carbon transport. These policies are anchored in the following international and national development plans with specific chapters/parts:

    • Philippine Plan of Action 2017-2022 Chapter 20: Ensuring Ecological Integrity, Clean and Health Environment;
    • Ambisyon Nation 2040: achievement of good transport facilities under the “Maginhawa” principle;
    • National Climate Change Action Plan 2011-2028 priority area number 6: Sustainable Energy, immediate outcome 3 (promotion and adaptation of Environmentally Transport); and
    • Sustainable Development Goal Number 11: Sustainable Transport.

    As presented in table 2 of the Summary of Part IV, the LTFRB has approved 26 routes for 19 transport operators who uses EVs as public utility jeepneys, with a total daily passenger ridership capacity of 40,736. These numbers will increase if the policies relative thereto are crafted, harmonized, and approved. Creating an environment were legal and policy frameworks are in sync with each other will create a ripple effect, in which a positive system naturally propagates outward to encourage an increasingly larger portion of the public to use, patronize, and maximize the transport system; while encouraging the private sector to engage and invest in the venture.

    Mass public transport is the life blood of most economies, government policies and financial support are essential during this period, to enable public transport operators to stay viable and continue to support the movement of passengers and goods in a sustainable way. The modern jeepneys (EVs) have greater capacity and space, compared to traditional jeepneys, wherein the required safe distancing can be maintained. In addition, EVs are relatively roadworthy and safe which can regain public confidence in using public transport. Thus, the approval of necessary policies, particularly on the use of EVs in public transport, is seen as a priority action.

    Sad to note, the said numbers are the same people who were directly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While the government has provided cash assistance from 5,000 to 8,000 pesos as part of the Social Amelioration Program, this was considered not enough to fulfill the needs of their families. Bouncing back the public transport in a modern, green, and sustainable way will help everyone in exiting this pandemic.

    b. Notable Accomplishments

    During the virtual consultation meetings, participants were asked on the milestones achieved in the promotion of low carbon transport. They noted the implementation of PUVMP and MVIS, use of electric tricycles, promotion of alternative fuels and energy technologies, and other related projects as it reflects the commitment to increase private sector participation and investment in low carbon systems.

    • Initially, the Development Bank of the Philippines (DBP), Land Bank of the Philippines (LBP), and other private banks will fund cooperatives who can comply with the requirements. The loan programs of the DBP and LBP offered a 6% interest rate payable in up to seven (7) years.
    • Included in the Stakeholder Support Mechanism are technical-vocational scholarship grants, livelihood trainings, and job-skills matching are prepared for operators or drivers who chooses to stay or opt-out.
    • Incentives for PUV manufacturers and body builders are being done by the Department of Trade and Industry – Board of Investments to boost domestic vehicle production.
    • Institutionalization of MVIS to all registered motor vehicles using the 72-point test to check vehicle roadworthiness. The LTO and MVIS facility guarantee that that the testing system is tamper-proof and multiple Closed-Circuit Television (CCTV) cameras are in place.
    • The E-Trike Project has contributed in the promotion and development of the EV industry. It created EV-related domestic jobs (estimated at 14,000) nationwide. As a demonstration of low carbon transport implementation, only E-Trikes are mandated to be seen plying the streets of Boracay. Thus, enforcing the Malay Town Government to phase-out the motorized public tricycles. The island of Boracay received 200 energy efficient e-trikes. This is part of the DOTr’s contribution to the island’s move to embrace a more sustainable tourism development. The shift to EVs is part of the government’s campaign in promoting an environment-friendly public transport in the island.
    • Alternative fuels and energy technologies are continuously promoted. Amongst are the use of liquified petroleum gas as a clean alternative fuel for vehicles, particularly in public transport. In addition the pilot implementation of Natural Gas Vehicle Program for Public Transport aims to enhance energy supply security in the transport sector through fuel diversification, mainstream the use of compressed natural gas vehicle technology in public transport, and utilize natural gas as a clean alternative fuel for low carbon urban transport.

    c. Stakeholder’s Analysis

    In the same manner of virtual conference and review of documents, the involved teams and people were grouped according to level of participation, interest/motivations, and tools/means. This process is to determine how to involve and communicate with each of the stakeholder groups throughout the project. The groups were classified into 3 levels: Macro, Meso and Micro.
    Macro Level actors include national government agencies that are directly contributing to the success/failure of project implementation. They are responsible for establishing both generic and sectoral policies including strategies, objectives, targets, regulations, guidance, framework. The DOTr, as the main authority for the overall program implementation through the issuance of policies and strategies, was identified to take the lead in the implementation. Along with the DOTr are other key national agencies such as the Department of Energy for the issuance of energy-related policies, the Department of Trade and Industry on the establishment of minimum standards and specifications, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and Climate Change Commission for policies and strategies to mitigate the effects of climate change, the Department of Public Works and Highways to provide infrastructure support, the Department of Finance and Department of Budget and Management to ensure financing of implementation and other incentive mechanisms, among others.

    The Meso Level actors include the local government units; responsible for implementation of plans in their respective areas of jurisdictions (cities/municipalities). The LGUs, city/municipality, are inclined in leading the implementation of local public transport route plans. This includes the identification of green routes, and provides infrastructure and/or financial support needed. The said development plan shall build synergy between people in communities to maximize the use of low carbon transport.

    Meanwhile, the Micro Level actors include the barangay/community, schools and households; makes day to day consumption of the plans and decisions prepared by the Macro Level Actors. Attached as an annex is the Stakeholder’s Map (Annex G).

    d. Gaps and Challenges

    As mentioned in the methodology part, the data gathering adjusted its outline and incorporated safety measures as a response to minimize the health risks brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The online meetings, email of questionnaires, and reviews of pertinent documents conducted were found to be cheaper in different ways as it saves travel time, effort, costs of transportation, venue and accommodation. However, the technical limitations on the software and network used to host the meeting required additional time for the participants to get familiar. The interpersonal interactions needed in FGDs and interviews were limited to voice. Other participants chose not to open the camera, or at least do not have a camera in their respective desktops, and camera are not available during phone calls. The facial expressions and body language convey a great deal of information, and unconscious communication cues that help facilitate the discussion. There were instances that the facilitator repeated the responses to decrease the possibility of misunderstanding and misinformation. In addition, the strong social factors that are in place during face-to-face meetings, requiring everyone to remain engage and give attention, were sacrificed due to distractions in respective places of participants.

    f. Recommendations

    Geared towards the achievement of environmentally sustainable transport by enabling an environment for commercialization of low carbon urban transport system in the country, the following strategies are recommended:

    • Harmonization of existing related policies: While policies are created and aligned to these development plans, there is a need to provide a unified and holistic policy and legal framework, as there are pending bills filed which are of the same objective. It should also be noted that the passing of laws and policies are not enough, but ensuring the effective enforcement of policies and support be in place.
    • Adoption and implementation of the policies in local level: A strong reinforcement of implementation of programs and projects towards EST among LGUs should be prioritized. A well-defined monitoring and evaluation system would aid in addressing implementation challenges timely and deliberately.
    • Capacity Building: Training, mentoring, provision of technical assistance and resource augmentation/support improves effectiveness of program implementation, at the micro and macro levels. It will improve all key stakeholder’s performance and will enhance its ability to function and continue to stay relevant even with a rapidly changing environment. Particularly, the strengthening of institutional capacity of LGUs to increase industry involvement and public awareness for acceptability and readiness is needed.
    • Effective communication: Misinformation is a common challenge in every government program/project. In the case of PUVMP, frustrations to the government are conveyed to different media platforms. Negative acceptance of public operators and drivers with the program was among the challenges. In this case, government actions should be well communicated to the public, highlighting the overall goal of sustainable transport, better livelihoods, and cleaner environment for the future generation.
    • Balanced participation, strengthened capacity and well-coordinated stakeholders: Participation across all levels (Macro, Meso, and Micro) is one of the keys to attain success in the promotion of low carbon urban transport system. The close coordination and collaboration among partners will resolve overlapping mandates and functions. The one direction policy will help improve the implementation mechanism towards timely delivery of commitments.
    • Provision of robust infrastructure: The Chapter 19 of the Philippine Development Plan 2017-2022, Accelerating Infrastructure Development, sets the “Build, Build, Build” agenda of the government to boost infrastructure development. In the said plan, 64.20% of the infrastructure investment targets is allocated to the transportation sector. With the growing demand on the use of public transport, the PUV modernization program is expected to increase its efficiency.
    • Accountability and Transparency: A public office is a public trust; thus public officials should be held accountable for their actions and should promote participation. Accountability and transparency are mutually reinforcing. It will increase public participation to relevant and accessible information. It will resolve doubt and trust issues over government programs and projects.
4 Guidance Note on COVID-19 and Transport in Asia and the Pacific, July 24, 2020, Asian Development Bank