“It’s time for the Philippines through the Department of Foreign Affairs to invoke the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution and initiate discussions for a possible loss and damage mechanism that can cover the worsening hazardous effects of the 2015 Southeast Asian Haze which first hit the Philippines through its Southern Islands early October this year. An erring state, in this case Indonesia, should compensate states adversely affected by the effects of the pollution.
The adverse effects have begun. Several flights to central and southern islands were cancelled or delayed in the past week due to the thickening smog, compromising commuters and business activities. The air pollution crisis, which is currently affecting Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Southern Thailand, Vietnam, and Cambodia, poses a huge health risk to the country. It makes the already compromised quality of air much worse, exposing our citizens to diseases such as headaches, dizziness, fatigue bronchitis, asthma, pneumonia, and cardiovascular disease.
This is also the opportune moment for the Congress to consider the passage of a bill similar to Singapore’s Transboundary Haze Pollution Act, which imposes a fine of $100,000 to $2M on those guilty of conduct which causes or contributes to any haze pollution in their country.
In addition, the issue should also be brought for consideration in the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, seeing that the pollution was caused by forest fires resulting from illegal slash-and-burn practices by firms and farmers as a relatively inexpensive means of clearing land, and most of the lands identified to be burning are peat lands, made up of layers of dead vegetation and other organic matter, massively contributing to greenhouse gases emission.”
REP. RODEL M. BATOCABE
AKO BICOL Partylist
Committee on Climate Change
House of Representatives