It has produced four Philippine presidents since the country’s independence and is famous as the place where the first salvo in the country’s fight against colonialism was fired.
Now, San Juan, the smallest city in the Philippines by land area, has become one of the first municipalities in Metro Manila to join the BreatheLife network, after Marikina City.
“San Juan’s air quality is generally good, as per the national Department of Environment and Natural Resources report, due to the strict enforcement of relevant laws,” said San Juan Mayor Francisco Javier M. Zamora.
“But, of course, we can’t be complacent— so we have expanded our capacity to monitor, re-test and enforce vehicle emissions limits, and we have in place a number of ordinances that support air quality,” he said.
San Juan has some air quality monitoring in place, regularly reporting to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), and is nipping known sources of air pollutants in the bud.
Its Anti-Smoke Belching Unit (ASBU) deploys two teams daily to ensure vehicles on the road are compliant with tailpipe emissions standards, while its Emissions Testing Unit verifies emissions testing results, ensuring their accuracy and authenticity.
It promotes clean air through events such as its annual car-free day. The city also has urban gardening initiatives that demonstrate and encourage the efficient use of its available space.
In terms of waste management, San Juan encourages waste segregation and implements the collection of segregated waste, rolling out a campaign to raise environmental awareness in all sections of the city, while inspecting wastewater treatment facilities in businesses daily and establishing and inspecting septic tanks in households. It also has a mobile composting machine that turns food waste to compost to help reduce food wastage
It has a “No to Open Burning” ordinance, making the practice illegal.
Barangay monitoring is also done through environmental officers and volunteers to ensure the sustainability of initiatives, as well as to ensure that immediate response is given to any violations against national environmental laws.
San Juan is also working on boosting its energy efficiency; in partnership with Meralco (the Manila Electric Company), it is conducting energy efficiency seminars targeted at business establishments and other sectors.
It is promoting the manufacture of eco-bricks as a means of livelihood as well as a project for the academe.
Other related efforts include the operation of an Anti-Tobacco Smoking Unit to protect non-smokers from secondhand smoke, and the establishment of urban gardens and rooftop gardening by city ordinance to help in the absorption of carbon dioxide (the latter one of its efforts in support of its Local Climate Change Action Plan).
The city is served by Line 2 of the metro system of the greater Metro Manila urban agglomeration, though its main modes of public transportation include jeepneys and buses. On World Bicycle Day this year (3 June 2020), it launched its Makabagong San Juan Pop-up Bike Lanes. This project aims to promote an active, inclusive and sustainable mode of transportation, in line with the “new normal” due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This initiative can also help reduce air pollution within the city.
The BreatheLife network welcomes San Juan as it embarks on its clean air journey.
Banner photo: Patrick Roque/CC BY-SA 4.0