ENVIRONMENTAL CHAMPION. Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao (center) receives the Clean Air award given by environmental watchdog Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc (CAPMI) at the Manila Hotel on Friday (Nov. 27, 2020). Pacquiao encouraged the public to plant more trees to mitigate the effects of climate change. (Photo grabbed from Clean Air Philippines Facebook page)

MANILA – Boxing champion and Senator Emmanuel ‘Manny’ Pacquiao is urging the public to plant more trees as part of measures to save the environment.

Magtulong-tulong tayo upang maging malinis ang ating kapaligiran. Ipagpatuloy natin ang pagiging plantita at plantito. Magtanim tayo ng mga puno sa halip na ubusin ang oras sa mga bisyo (let us help one another to have a clean environment. Let us continue to be plantitos and plantitas. Let us plant more trees instead of wasting our time on vices),” Pacquiao said after receiving the 'Clean Air Champion' award from environmental watchdog Clean Air Philippines Movement, Inc. (CAPMI) in a ceremony at the Manila Hotel on Friday.

CAPMI said it chooses its yearly champion based on the merits done to advance their clean air advocacy and other environmental causes.

Past Clean Air awardees Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and Department of Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade sent video messages for Pacquiao.

As a lawmaker, Pacquiao pushed for the full implementation of Republic Act No. 8749 otherwise known as the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999.

The law provides for a comprehensive air pollution control policy to protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature and at the same time, promote and protect the global environment.

Pacquiao also encouraged the people to report to authorities even the simplest smoke-belching incidents that they may observe in their neighborhood.

Planting more trees, Pacquaio said, is the answer to the current problem of serious flooding in some parts of the country that may be caused by frequent typhoons hitting the country, just like the recent typhoons “Rolly” and “Ulysses” which did not only destroy properties but also claimed several lives most especially in the provinces of Bicol, Quezon, Cagayan, and Isabela.

Aside from preventing soil erosion because of the capacity of trees to hold soil and water, they also cause the air to be cleaner and fresher.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said what the country is experiencing right now is the effect of climate change, calling on his Cabinet secretaries to act immediately on the problem to prevent the same from occurring in the future.

CAPMI president Dr. Leo Olarte strongly echoed and confirmed Duterte’s statement.

“President Duterte is correct. Climate change involves abnormal warming of our planet’s oceans. Typhoons are born in oceans and not on land. The warmer our oceans the stronger the global wind systems will be therefore super typhoons like Yolanda and Rolly arise. Anthropogenic or simply human-caused activities result in the unabated emissions of greenhouse gases that pollute the air we breathe. This leads to global warming that causes Climate Change,” Olarte said.

Other awardees of the event are the Philippine Medical Association (PMA), Beta Sigma Fraternity Medical Group (BSFMG), and the League of Data-privacy and Cyber-security Advocates of the Philippines, Inc. (LeaDCAP) for PMA Doctors on Boats and PMA DOCPH free online telemedicine docph.org.

For PMA Doctors on Boats, awardees are the DOTr -Philippine Coast Guard (PCG), Department of National Defense (DND)- Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the PNP Maritime Group.

The Philippine Bamboo Industry Development Council (PBIDC) also received the award for the Climate Change and Poverty Mitigation category.

Studies conducted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) show that more than 80 percent of air pollution in the urban areas in the country comes from the unabated emissions from motor vehicles that form part of the greenhouse gases in our planet’s atmosphere.

These gases cause global warming eventually leading to climate change.

Aside from climate change, toxic motor vehicle emissions also cause deadly cardiovascular and respiratory diseases in humans. (PNA)