MANILA – Metro Manila started to experience light haze – which may not be caused by Indonesian forest fires as the Philippines’ winds have been blowing from the northeast, according to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Administration (PAGASA).
Air pollutants were first felt in Visayas and Mindanao where several residents suffered asthma attacks and other respiratory illnesses. The pollutants found in the regions were confirmed to have come from the Indonesian haze, said the Environment Management Bureau.
Of the affected cities, Koronodal, Cotabato had the heaviest concentration of air pollutants from the Indonesian forest fires. Bacolod, Cebu and Davao also had high readings of pollutants.
The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, has been verifying reports that two individuals died in General Santos City because of the prevailing haze in the area. The department has not been ruling out the possibility that the incidents may or may not be related to haze.
“We have two cases recorded pero meron pa mga sudden death. As to history, wala namang cause as to ano, parang nahirapan lang maghinga. Wala namang hypertension. Wala namang heart problem, pero biglaan lang,” City Health Office OIC Dr. Antonieta Odi said in a GMA News report.
(We have two cases recorded but there are sudden deaths. As to history, there are no causes as to what, [they] just had difficulty breathing. They didn’t have hypertension. They didn’t have heart problems. Their deaths were just sudden.)
Authorities, for their part, have been monitoring how the haze will continue to affect the country.
“We have been receiving advisories coming from the Office of the Civil Defense from Region VII (Central Visayas) and with this, the provincial government, through Governor Roel Degamo, is in the process of coordinating with various agencies and, of course, waiting for the official results of various studies conducted by the different agencies especially the Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (PDRRMC) action officer Adrian Sedillo said in the same report.
Indonesia not accountable
Meanwhile, President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III would not hold Indonesia accountable for the haze but would rather offer assistance to the neighboring country.
“Well, the haze affecting us… just happened recently. We’re actually asking our Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to study the whole matter and deliver recommendations as to what actions we should take,” Aquino said in a forum.
“Having said that, instead of castigating an ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) brother-country, perhaps in the ASEAN summit, we should really look for the wherewithal, the direction, the attitude – attitudinal change whereby we can help Indonesia avoid creating this problem,” he added.