Improving our cities’ walkability

Budget Sec. Benjamin Diokno.

As an increasing number of Filipinos become complacent about their health with their inactive lifestyle, the necessity to reconfigure the country’s infrastructures to encourage more people to be physically active and promote public’s well-being is now more apparent.

Unlike other countries where people can enjoy going to and from office and home by walking, Philippines on the other hand, exhibits a poor walkability environment as most walkways lack sufficient space and greenery to lessen a pedestrian’s exposure to harmful fumes discharged by smoke-belching vehicles.

The government recognizes this need and in order to get more people to walk as well as assist in the rehabilitation of the environment, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) recently launched Green, Green, Green program to make the country’s streets walk-friendly.

A unique assistance program

The DBM’s greening program is in line with the administration efforts to improve the environmental conditions across the country by funding initiatives of local government units (LGU) in creating eco-friendly facilities such as parks, playgrounds and walkways.
With this unique assistance program, at least 145 cities in the country were picked to become more livable and sustainable.

Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said the environmental focus is built around the need to develop a funding facility for the League of Cities of the Philippines.

“What was missing in our cities today are the type of beautiful places we enjoy when traveling to some of the best cities in the world,” Diokno said, adding that it was in the LGU mandate to provide the adequacy of open spaces to its constituents.

“Our Local Government Code requires that all cities provide parks and the newly released National Urban Development Framework promotes the adequate network of open spaces to be implemented through the comprehensive land use guidelines,” he added.

Sen. Sonny Angara, who was present during the program’s launch, said this initiative by the DBM is critical in improving the walkability of the country’s streets and environment in addition to reversing the physical inactivity of Filipinos citing a study where the Philippines ranked fourth in the world among the least active population in exercising.

“As the local government chair in the Senate, more should still be backed to empower our local government units,” Angara said while congratulating the agency for having its visionary program.

Similarly, Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon commended the DBM for translating the promise of building a better Philippines through the greening program.

“We are delighted to see the plan turned into action considering the enormity of the current demand for public infrastructure across the country,” he said.

Rellon, who also serves as the executive vice president of the League of Cities of the Philippines, said the project would immensely help improve the livability of urban areas.

Program updates

The first batch of the approved projects under the program includes 13 institutional open spaces, 21 public squares and plazas, 60 parks, 16 streetscapes, 30 waterfronts and 20 mangrove parks.

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