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PIA Press Release
2007/09/21

Cebu Clean Air Act board still lacks action plan, says DENR

Cebu City (21 September) -- Since the Clean Air Act took effect in 1999, the Metro Cebu Airshed Governing Board (MCAGB) still has to come up with an action plan that addresses air pollutant emissions from industrial and vehicular sources within the specified airshed areas in order to achieve an ambient air quality for the protection of human health and welfare.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources - Environmental Management Bureau (DENR- EMB 7) Regional Director Alan Aranguez lamented that the MCAGB still has to form an executive committee to formulate policies on the prevention and control of pollution emission.

Aranguez said RA 8749 or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999 mandates that local government units (LGUs) have the primary responsibility to deal with environmental problems in their areas and as such, their role is crucial in the enforcement of the Clean Air Act.

The DENR-7 official who recently called for a meeting of the MCAGB was again frustrated by the failure of local chief executives to attend the meeting while some only sent representatives. Only Consolacion Mayor Avelino Gung-ob was consistent in most board meetings.

Aranguez said the law states clearly that it should be the mayors who should attend the meeting so that decisions could immediately be reached regarding policies and guidelines on the law's implementation within an airshed. Although the law did not also specify that mayors are prohibited to send their representatives, this is said.

The Metro Cebu airshed comprised five cities and five municipalities from the City of Naga in the south to Compostela town in the north including the cities of Cebu, Mandaue, Lapulapu and Talisay. The member municipalities are Minglanilla, Cordova, Consolacion, Liloan and Compostela.

Cebu Gov. Gwen Garcia is also part of the board but has yet to attend a single meeting.

The last MCAGB meeting called by the DENR-7 was conducted in October of last year which again was only attended by a few. There are about 30 members under the board that also included non-government organizations, people's organizations, other government agencies and representatives from the civil society, this was learned.

In the meeting held yesterday at the DENR-7 office, Aranguez wanted to form the 11-member executive committee of the board which will be headed by the DENR-7 and co-chaired by the Cebu Governor with the LGUs as members. The committee was never formed as the committee would be futile as some of the participants only attended the meeting for the first time.

It was agreed in the meeting that Aranguez would pay each local chief executive-member of the board a courtesy call to personally cite the significant role they play in the long-delayed implementation of the Clean Air Act.

Aranguez said he would ask for Garcia's intervention to ensure the attendance of the mayor-members of the board. But Aranguez first has to personally visit the governor to brief her on the importance and the powers of the MCAGB.

The law states that the DENR in coordination with the LGUs and other stakeholders should draft a local framework that aims to reduce, attain and maintain air quality standards by preventing, controlling and regulating air pollutants within an airshed. The framework will serve as the guiding principles for local officials to take the necessary and appropriate action to abate and/or control pollution and enforce legal steps against violators.

The MCAGB that covers 10 areas in Cebu is the first airshed in the region while Aranguez said every town and city in Central Visayas will be covered under specific airsheds to be established. Based on the available resources, the DENR-7 only came up with one airshed piloted in Cebu. (PIA-Cebu/FCR) [top]

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