Check them up

Mayor wants CTTMO personnel to undergo medical checkup

MAYOR Sara Duterte, declared by an environment group as “Clean Air Champion,” yesterday ordered for a medical checkup of field personnel of the City Transport and Traffic Management Office (CTTMO) to see if their work is causing them respiratory illnesses.

 The mayor issued the order in her speech during the launch of Philippine Clean Air and National Environmental Awareness Month at the NCCC Mall in which she was awarded as “Clean Air Champion” and the city as “Clean Air City” by the non-government environmental group, Clean Air Philippines Movement.

 “I want to know if our CTTMO personnel are getting sick because of their work,” Duterte said.

 CTTMO head Dionisio Abude, in a telephone interview, heaved a sigh of relief at the order, saying there have been signs that the personnel were getting sick.

 “We welcome this order,” Abude said, talking about the mayor’s new directive.

Abude confirmed to have received reports about personnel taking leaves of absence due to sickness.

Over the weekend, an enforcer was rushed to the hospital while he was on duty. But Abude said they are still trying to determine whether that was work-related.

The CTTMO has around 400 personnel, and 75% of them are deployed on the field. The team includes personnel from motorcycle unit, mobile units, engineers, as well as traffic enforcers.

At the moment, the city government does not yet provide face masks as part of the standard issue equipment for traffic enforcers.

Abude said that the City Health Office is likely the agency to be tasked to do the checkups on the traffic enforcers.

The matter has not been discussed yet among the officials, Abude said.

The Mayor made the order for the traffic enforcers when she mentioned that jeepney drivers were usually the victims of air pollution because of their daily exposure to dust and other air pollutants.

 A University of the Philippines study was quoted by the World Bank in 1994 regarding the impact of vehicle pollution to motorists and commuters.

According to the study, “jeepney drivers and children face the greatest exposure.”

The study showed a “prevalence of chronic obstructive pulmonary diseases (COPD) to be highest among jeepney drivers, the most exposed group, at 32.5 percent. Commuters had the lowest prevalence of chronic respiratory symptoms at 14.8 percent.”

“Incidence of pulmonary tuberculosis (PTB) is also highest among jeepney drivers at 17.5 percent, compared to 9 percent for commuters. The prevalence of respiratory symptoms among school children ranged from 4.8 to 27.5 percent and from 15.8 to 40.6 percent among child vendors. A comparison of the pulmonary functions of urban school children with those in rural areas, showed more compromised pulmonary functions for children in Metro Manila,” the World Bank report said.

Meanwhile, the city government and Mayor Duterte received awards for running a Clean Air City, with 80 micrograms per cubic meter recorded around the city.

The number is lower than the 150 mg/cu m deemed acceptable by the Clean Air Act.

 November is declared as the Philippine Clean Air and National Environmental Awareness Month. Yesterday’s event at NCCC Mall Davao was attended by Clean Air Philippines Movement Inc. chair Dr. Michael Aragon, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) XI regional director Ruth Tawantawan, DENR-Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) director Engr. Metodio Turbella, and DENR-EMB XI regional director Engr. Nestor Patnugot.