Pass the Hybrid, Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Incentives (AFVI) act now
  • Petitioned The House of Representatives

This petition was delivered to:

The 15th Congress of the Philippines
The House of Representatives

Pass the Hybrid, Electric Vehicle and Alternative Fuel Incentives (AFVI) act now

    1. James Deakin
    2. Petition by

      James Deakin

      Makati, Philippines

When the Alternative Fuel Vehicle Incentive Act (AFVI) was approved last January 29 after going through its third and final reading in the Senate, most of us breathed a huge sigh of relief. We’ve been holding our breath (pun intended) for a bill that promotes clean energy, clean air and green jobs, and the one authored by Ralph Recto seems almost perfect.

Basically, the bill seeks to exempt all hybrids and electric vehicles, as well as those powered by either CNG, LPG, wind, solar or any other approved alternative fuel, from excise tax and VAT, among other incentives, to bring the prices of a hybrid or electric vehicle to somewhere within the vicinity of its gasoline counterpart––which in the case of a Prius C, would be somewhere just under a million pesos.

And as a thank you for making a cleaner, greener choice, the bill seeks to reward you by dropping the Motor Vehicles User Charge (MVUC), which is a significant sum that is automatically built into your registration costs, as well as exempt your vehicle from coding. And as an added bonus, there’s even a provision for providing free parking in all new establishments.

Also, because the exemption of taxes include raw materials, it also allows local manufacturers to build affordable electric jeeps, tricycles and busses, dramatically reducing the deafening sounds of loud exhaust pipes and clattering diesel engines, and bringing us one step closer to that evasive electric dream of clean, fresh air.

“If the Bill finally will be passed into law, it will lure investors to choose the Philippines as a more viable country in the region, a measure that is crucial to the Electric Vehicle Industry’s launch as it passes currently a sensitive stage of development.” Rommel T. Juan, Chairman and President of the Electric Vehicle Industry Association of the Philippines, (EVAP), said in an official statement Monday.

So what’s the catch? Well, without a bicameral conference comittee, which is the final step before it is passed into law, the bill remains just that: a bill. And an extremely expensive one that none of us can afford to pay––but will eventually do so with our health, the earth, and our reputation as one of the most environmentally irresponsible countries on earth.

Which begs the question: If it is such a great law, and the Senate has already nominated senators who will constitute the Senate's Bicam members, why can't the House form theirs? 

During an exchange of messages recently, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri told me “The Department of Finance says that they will lose an estimated 1 billion in tax revenues, but they don't see the potential of new industries that would be created because of this new law. New industries mean new jobs and more jobs for the people.”

Senator Ralph Recto also expressed his concern in a phone call just minutes before this column went to print, also citing the department of Finance as the only hurdle in getting the bicam to push through. He explained the value of the bill and called on the public and media alike to support its passage, and urged the Department of Finance to reconsider their position and work together with both the Senate and Congress for the sake of the environment.

“The bill has a sunset clause in it. We’re only talking about 9 years of tax exemption, after which, everything can be revisited.” Recto explained with traces of frustration and desperation in his voice, as his bill, which he has spent countless man hours, not to mention tax payers money, faces the almost ironic prospect of going up in smoke.

But while Senator Recto sees the window shrinking, he insists that there is still hope. There are still three sessions in June to hold a bicam and ratify the bill before a new congress sits on June 30, otherwise the bill gets junked and it needs to start from scratch, despite it already passing through both congress and senate.

And this is where you can help. If you want clean air, clean vehicles, green jobs and zero emission public utility vehicles in the near future, speak up now. Make your voice, and more importantly, your vote count. Clean air doesn’t come cheap, and as concerned voters during an election period, you now have the power to make our government pay for it.

If we go by Senator Zubiri’s and Senator Recto’s suggestions that the bill is being held up by the Dept of Finance simply because of fear of lost revenue, which has basically put a price tag on our lives, perhaps the DOF would like to take into account the monetary cost that pollution has on health care and productivity. 

Every hour, Philippine motor vehicles consume 2.029 million liters of gasoline and release 2,200 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the air, which equates to Php 53,000 that the government needs to cough up every 60 minutes to treat pollution-related diseases and to compensate for productivity losses. 

“About 65 percent of drugs purchased by the health department every year were for treatment for respiratory diseases,” Environmental Secretary Ramon Paje has been quoted saying in several published interviews when discussing Metro Manila’s air pollution problem caused by vehicles. 

In a speech before the Development Summit in New Delhi earlier this month, Climate Change Commissioner, Heherson Alvarez said, “The World Bank estimates that some 5,000 annual premature deaths make up 12 percent of all deaths in Metro Manila, the highest of any region in the Philippines, due primarily to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases from exposure to air pollution,”  

This has been valued at over US$1.5 billion in lost wages and medical treatment and doesn’t even take into account the income lost from a reduction in tourism, loss of foreign investments, vegetation, quality of life and even damage to buildings and structures that require regular and expensive painting to keep them from looking like something that Lucifer’s lives in. 

So a billion pesos in lost revenue? That will barely cover the court costs. 

According to Babes Romualdez, in his Philippine STAR column, Spybits, entitled “Metro Manila’s deadly air”, “The Philippine Medical Association are preparing to file a P1-billion class action suit against the DOTC and Secretary Mar Roxas for the alleged failure in enforcing the Clean Air Act, with smoke belching buses, trucks, jeepneys and other vehicles freely traversing the streets despite emission tests being mandatory prior to vehicle registration.”

But having said that, as fantastic as the bill is for the environment, I do see a few areas of concern. While I’m a hundred percent supportive of this bill, obviously, there are legitimate points that need to be addressed and provisions that should be inserted if we want to get the best out of it.

 

Firstly, the bill should be also emission based rather than purely technology based. While hybrids and EVs are a huge step in the right direction and should be given every possible tax break, this shouldn’t penalize small gasoline-powered cars that have similar or smaller carbon footprints. For example, a 1-liter Ecoboost Fiesta or Mitsubishi Mirage will use significantly less gas than a Cadillac Escalade hybrid, and should not be penalized simply because it chooses a different technology to arrive at the same destination.

Once again, I agree that hybrids and electric vehicles should be completely tax free, but to be completely fair, provisions should also be set up in the bill for small-engined vehicles; perhaps the taxes should be based on carbon emissions and fuel consumption rather than the technology alone. 

Case in point, LPG. Yes there is a reduction in emissions, and they should enjoy some incentives, but this is only the case for properly fitted systems. I have seen some real hack jobs done on taxis and fleet cars that actually doubled the fuel consumption and increased emissions.

The only way I can see an LPG vehicle enjoying tax breaks is if it were factory installed from new, and still, it should not enjoy exactly the same perks as a zero emission vehicle like a Nissan Leaf or Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

 

And lastly, there should be a clear program developed, as early as now, for proper battery disposal and recycling. We don’t want to turn around in ten years once most of them start hitting their use by date and appear shocked, no pun intended, when we see them being dumped in landfills. 

 

But however imperfect it may be, the bill is still a massive stride in the right direction and I appeal to the House of representatives to prioritize it before we miss that small window in June before the new congress sits. We’ve come this far, let’s not let the whole thing go up in smoke for the sake of revenue. There’s a much bigger picture, and all it takes are a few good men and women to put this to a bicam and then pass it in to law. And then we can all breathe a lot easier. 

The power of social media has given everyone an equal voice. Let’s use it now. We’re so close. Let’s not let this slip away simply because of money. This shouldn’t be about dollars but sense. We’ve made mother nature our slave for too long now; it is time we start taking care of her. God forgives. Man forgives. Nature doesn’t. And we all know what they say about a woman scorned.

#wewantcleanairnow

You can contact the author on james.deakin@facebook.com

To:
The House of Representatives, The 15th Congress of the Philippines
Pass the Alternative Fuel Incentives Act (AFVI) now

Sincerely,
[Your name]

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 2,000 signatures
    2. ABS-CBN have picked up on this petition.

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      I have been asked to come on ANC news alerts on Monday, Feb 18, to talk about this bill. This could be the start of something huge. But we will need a LOT more signatures if we want to force change. IF you believe in this bill, then please help spread the word and encourage similar-minded people to sign the petition. We only have until June to show them that we do have a voice. Let's make it loud and clear.

    3. We now have a Facebook Page!

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      There's an official Facebook page for this petition. Hope you could all join it so we can exchange information and updates about what is going on https://www.facebook.com/WeWantCleanAirNow

      We Want Clean Air Now

      When the alternative fuels incentive act (SB 2856) was approved last January 29 after going through...

    4. 500 signatures in one week. Time to shift into overdrive.

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.pbase.com/cmanaginged/image/104246245
      Firstly, thank you for all of your support. I hope you will forgive the constant updates, but this is not the kind of petition that you 'set and forget' because that is exactly what our politicians and everyone else who are lobbying against this are hoping or expecting us to do.

      Let's show them that clean air, green jobs and a brighter future for our kids is worth fighting for. Even if you have already done so, share the petition again. Encourage your friends to do the same. Sometimes people need to see it several times before they actually click and find out what the fuss is all about. Together we can make a real difference.

      I live for the day that we can turn around and tell our kids, grandkids, nephews, nieces or anyone from the next generation that we were a part of that change.

    5. Reached 500 signatures
    6. We smashed through the 400 signature mark!

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.pbase.com/cmanaginged/image/104246245
      We just smashed through the 400 signature mark. A fraction of what we need, sure, but this is where the momentum starts kicking in. I've been told by that we will never reach enough signatures. And even if we did, we will never be able to influence the government to prioritise this bill before the new congress sits on June 30. They may be right. But then again, they also said the same thing about EDSA 1 & 2.

      Just think. If 423 of us actively encouraged our peers to sign the petition, the exponential figure is more than what we need to force change.

      I've been asked by friends why I feel so strongly about this bill––because in the end, they say, it will just end up the same once corruption rears its ugly head. Once again, they may be right, but the key difference between this bill and every other one, is that it doesn't penalise irresponsible choices but incentivise responsible ones, making good more affordable than bad.

    7. We hit 300 signatures. But we'll need more if we want to be taken seriously

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      The campaign period for local elections has officially begun. Make your vote count. DO NOT vote for any one who will not help push this bill into law. We can have this done by June, but we need more signatures. If you believe in this act, then help spread the word and encourage others to do the same.

    8. Reached 250 signatures
    9. We hit two hundred signatures in 48 hours. But we need a lot, lot more...

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      I just received a series of messages from Senator Ralph Recto. He is extremely grateful for all the support he has seen here on this petition and together with the Dept of Energy will be lobbying the palace. They feel that there is still a very, very good chance of getting this signed into law by June. But we need more signatures if we want to be taken seriously. If you want to be part of the solution for clean air in the Philippines, after you have signed it, please share, and encourage your friends to do the same. We can do this!

    10. Reached 200 signatures
    11. We Hit a hundred signatures in 24 hours. But we need a lot, lot more...

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you once again to everyone that signed the petition. This is not a "facebook-will-donate-a-dollar-for-every-like-and-share type of post. This is very, very real, and so close to being passed. It just needs your help. Our politicians (or at least the ones trying to block it) will have no choice but to listen to us if we have the numbers. So if you really want to force change, please, please share this on your walls and encourage people who feel the same to sign the petition. Every. Signature. Counts. Maraming salamat po.

    12. Reached 100 signatures
    13. We need at least 10,000 signatures to be taken seriously

      James Deakin
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you to all that signed the petition. Sadly, we need at least 10,000 if we want to be taken seriously. We have a very real chance of making a real change for ourselves and our children. This alternative fuel bill doesn't hurt anyone and can finally restore the clean air we once enjoyed in The Philippines. Please share this and encourage people to sign it. Every signature counts.

    14. Reached 50 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • LUIS MACEDA BIñAN CITY, LAGUNA PHILIPPINES, PHILIPPINES
      • 3 months ago

      We have to act now. If we don't - who will?

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • genesis gallego ILOILO CITY, PHILIPPINES
      • 3 months ago

      minimize air pollution.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Wilson Barsaga MASBATE, PHILIPPINES
      • 3 months ago

      The air we breath is the issue here, we have to do everything to keep it clean...

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • MARY JANE SANO CITY OF MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES
      • 3 months ago

      I owned a Electric Bike. I brought it because my fare from work to my house is too costly. I would have saved P119.00 a day for transportation. Plus the fact that my e-bike has no harm to our environment, not much maintenance to be needed. I want clear air for my self, my family, and for the next generation of our country! We are free to choose any option/s that will help out our environment regain its natural form. Please do not take away our rights to have cleaner air for just billion pesos lost. NO amount of MONEY in this WORLD could EVER BUY a CLEAN AIR! God Bless!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Rafty Dela Cruz MAKATI, PHILIPPINES
      • 3 months ago

      Will help to solve the global warming.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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