Workshop provides platform to strengthen air quality management in the Philippines

On November 20, 2019, Clean Air Asia co-organized an interagency workshop with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environment Management Bureau Air Quality Management Section (EMB AQMS). The workshop provided a platform for government and non-government agencies to evaluate institutional initiatives and programs for air quality management in the country.

For the first time, stakeholders were gathered to assess mechanisms how the National Air Quality Control Plan can be improved to cope with the current and emerging air quality management needs of the country. The workshop, which coincides with the 20th year anniversary of the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 (Republic Act 8749), was attended by a total of 75 participants from national agencies, private institutions, academia, and other NGOs.

In his welcome remarks, the new EMB Director, Engr. William P. Cuňado, emphasized the significance of using available data for policy development and implementation of the involved agencies, with the help of all stakeholders. Atty. Glynda Bathan-Baterina, Deputy Executive Director of Clean Air Asia, reiterated the escalating number of premature deaths attributable to air pollution, which necessitates immediate action on improving the quality of air in the country.

As main implementers of the Philippine Clean Air Act, the DENR, Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Transportation (DOTr) shared achievements, ongoing efforts and future activities of their respective agencies in relation to air pollution reduction.

In the workshop, a World Café session allowed participants to discuss strengths and challenges in performing their agency’s role in the implementation of the Clean Air Act; interagency communication and coordination strengths, and points for development; and identified needs that must be addressed in order to perform their roles.

The afternoon session focused on current actions that has been done and must be done, in order to comply with tasks as identified in the National Air Quality Control Plan (NAQCAP; as per Department Administrative Order 2000-82). The participants were grouped based on emission sources: Area, Mobile and Stationary sources, and shared their knowledge and experiences on which sections of the NAQCAP must be updated. Other agencies that can be involved in the implementation process were also identified.
Some of the most pertinent discussions were on emission, fuel and quality standards and its strict implementation; clarification of agency mandates and implementation roles; synchronization of efforts and activities; data sharing; need for structural, financial and technical support; capacity building; more extensive involvement of the Department of Health and Department of Science and Technology; and the need for an overall change in approach in air quality management.

As stated by Engr. Jundy Del Socorro, OIC of the EMB AQMS, there must be recognition of needs and shortcomings in order to effectively update policies and improve its implementation. The outcomes of this workshop will be used to plan activities for year 2020 for the EMB AQMS, and to identify possible intervention points not only for the DENR but for all agencies and stakeholders.