Mount Samat, Bataan

The Provincial Government of Bataan (PGB) has been at the forefront of environmental protection as it takes initiatives to slow down the effects of climate change in the province.

Since 2018, PGB has been continuously fighting air pollution while striving to uphold the use of renewable energy through diversification of energy sources. PGB has also been beefing up its partnership with private advocates such as Clean Air Asia, for this purpose.

Importance of monitoring air quality

According to officer-in-charge Raphael De Leon of the Provincial Government – Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO), PGB addresses air pollution through evidence-based decisions. This is why the local government installed four air quality monitoring sensors located in the municipalities of Balanga, Limay, and Mariveles which the Provincial Government – Environment and Natural Resources Office (PG-ENRO) is closely monitoring.

Photo 3. PG-ENRO OIC Head Raphael De Leon

Photo 1. PG-ENRO OIC Head Raphael De Leon during Clean Air Asia's presentation of the Bataan study

“Our objective is really for public information and awareness. Actually, around March 6 to 8, nagkaroon ng thermal inversion dito. Malaking tulong yung sensors kasi na-alert kami na red lahat ng AQI [air quality index] readings. Thanks to the sensors, na-observe naming real-time ano ‘yong condition,” De Leon shared.

(Our objective is really for public information and awareness. Actually, around March 6 to 8, we had a thermal inversion here. The air quality sensors were a great help because we were immediately alerted on its red AQI readings. Thanks to the sensor, we were able to observe in real-time what is the current condition of our air quality.)

“Itong health-based warning system talaga ang gusto namin dito sa LGU (local government unit). Isa rin naman yun sa mga recommendations ng Clean Air Asia sa study. This is also why we still want to improve our monitoring system and yung implementation ng CAAP,” he added.

(A health-based warning system is something we want here in our local government unit, and this is also one of the recommendations by Clean Air Asia in their study. This is also why we still want to improve our monitoring system and the implementation of our CAAP).

A shift towards renewable energy

De Leon added that the Provincial Government is already at the forefront of the transition to renewable energy such as in diversifying its sources of energy.

“Sa Provincial Government side, ‘yong roof-mounted solar power ‘yong pinu-push talaga namin ngayon. Tulad ng Bataan People’s Center namin, yung rooftop no’n solar na. So a portion of our energy consumption, sa solar power nanggagaling. Yung aming command center may solar roofing din, tsaka yung Bataan Peninsula State University, as well as yung ibang elementary and high school buildings,” he added.

(Here in the Provincial Government side, we are really pushing towards roof-mounted solar power. One example is our Bataan’s People Center and command center – so a portion of our energy consumption comes from solar energy. Another example is the Bataan Peninsula State University that has solar roofing, as well as other elementary and high school buildings here).

Mr. Johnny Mandocdoc, Head of Limay – Municipal ENRO, also expressed his agreement in the pursuit of renewable energy sources.

“Pino-promote namin yung paggamit ng renewable energy tulad ng wind tsaka solar. Kaya dito yung mga streetlights namin solar na,” Mandocdoc said.

(We are promoting renewable energy here in Limay such as wind and solar energy. One of our examples is converting to solar-powered streetlights).

Photo 4. Limay MENRO

Photo 2. Limay MENRO discussing their clean air and clean energy initiatives with Clean Air Asia

Mariveles MENRO Staff Ms. Reshell Concepcion highlighted the need for a strong information, education, and communication (IEC) campaign to ensure the active participation of their communities and a better understanding of the negative effects of air pollution to their health.

Photo 5. Mariveles MENRO

Photo 3. Mariveles MENRO sharing their advocacy towards strong IEC campaigns with Clean Air Asia

“Number one affected talaga ang mga bata at yung may mga health risks pag mababa yung air quality. Kaya ang ginagawa naming IEC campaigns talaga para mahikayat din sila na sumunod sa mga polisiya namin at sumama sa mga initiatives sa Mariveles,” she said.

(Children and those who are vulnerable from health risks are the number one affected by poor air quality. That’s why we are conducting IEC campaigns to really encourage the communities to follow our policies and join in our initiatives here in Mariveles).

Poor air quality during monsoon months

“Kapag ang hangin ay amihan, dito po sa Barangay Lamao ang takbo ng hangin. Kaya pagdating ng November, December, at January medyo [mababa] talaga ang quality ng hangin na nadarama namin dito,” Barangay Lamao Chairperson Leila F. Cruz said.

(We experience poor air quality here at Barangay Lamao during the northeast monsoon because the wind’s direction is towards us, especially when it’s November, December, and January).

Photo 1. Barangay Lamao Punong Barangay Leila F. Cruz

Photo 4. Barangay Lamao Punong Barangay Leila F. Cruz during her interview with Clean Air Asia

The poor air quality can be attributed to air pollution.

Air pollution can either come from natural sources such as volcanic eruption or man-made sources due to industrialization. Air pollutants that come from man-made sources can be categorized into three groups: (a) mobile or transport sources such as emissions from fuel-based transportation; (b) point or industry sources such CFPs; and (c) area sources like the burning of solid waste.

Clean Air Asia’s study

A study led by Clean Air Asia found that around 10,082 acute respiratory infections could be avoided if 50% of the emissions from point (industrial) and mobile sources and 100% of emissions from area sources were reduced.

Clean Air Asia’s study conducted in the municipalities of Limay and Mariveles showed that high levels of air pollutants collected from point (industrial) sources were attributed to CFPs and the oil and gas industries with up to 80% share in total.

Glynda Bathan-Baterina, Deputy Executive Director of Clean Air Asia, said, “the measures to address air pollution in Bataan would be reinforced with stronger industrial emission standards in the Philippine Clean Air Act. These standards are currently being revised by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” said Bathan-Baterina.

“While we are pursuing more stringent emissions standards in the country, we must also explore different ways to sustainable development such as the just transition to renewable sources,” she added.

Limay Vice Mayor Richie David expressed his full support for the local initiatives of the province and Clean Air Asia in transitioning towards renewable energy to achieve cleaner, and healthier air for the Bataeños.

“Hindi madali, hindi namin kaya na kami lang [addressing air pollution]. Pero salamat sa inyo – sa studies niyo, sa mga initiatives ng local government. Patuloy po naming susuportahan ang inyong campaign,” he said.

(It’s not easy, and we can’t do it alone [addressing air pollution. But thanks to you [Clean Air Asia] and your studies, and the initiatives of the local government. We will continue to support your campaign).