The Philippines’ negligence of air quality is causing more deaths and losses of about $87.6 billion annually, according to the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and the Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC).


“Air quality is not an abstract issue. Air pollution costs the Philippines P4.5 trillion every year, which in 2019 represented 23 percent of our GDP [gross domestic product],” Isabella Suarez, an analyst at CREA, said.

“Neglecting air pollution comes with a heavy bill in the form of increased healthcare and welfare costs, as well as loss of labor and economic productivity.” she further explained.

In the most detailed analysis for the Philippines to date, the joint report of CREA and ICSC found that air pollution in the country is responsible for 66,000 premature deaths every year.

“If this does not spell out how urgent the situation is, it’s hard to imagine what else can spur the government to truly implement the country’s Clean Air Act. Our findings show the degree to which Filipino’s long-term exposure to air pollution increases the risk of developing illnesses such as asthma, lung cancer and stroke, as well as comorbidities to COVID-19,” said Vince Carlo Garcia, a research analyst with the ICSC.

In September, the World Health Organization (WHO) revised its recommended “safe levels” of air pollution based on growing scientific evidence that air pollution is more dangerous to human health than previously estimated.

According to the report, if the WHO guidelines were met, the country’s annual air pollution-related deaths could be reduced by more than half while economic costs would reduce to a third.

Deputy Speaker Loren Legarda, principal author of the Clean Air Act, expressed frustration over the executive’s inaction.

Legarda said “Millions of premature deaths around the world have been attributed to poor air quality and millions more are exposed to higher levels of pollution from a growing number of pollution sources. Some of the pollutants also contribute to climate change.”

The solon said it was unacceptable that the country is missing “by more than 200 percent what is deemed to be safe” according to the WHO’s new guidelines.

“The adverse impacts of climate change and poor air quality do not recognize political colors. It is incumbent upon us to come together and take leadership in the effort to promote the health of the environment and of our people,” she further said.

To speed up implementation of the law, Legarda urged the passage of a “Joint Resolution of Congress” to constitute the Congressional Oversight Committee on the Clean Air Act.”

For his part, Jundy del Soccorro of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’s (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) said the first step to finding a solution is acknowledging the problem, which is why we need all the data and expertise from academe and government agencies.

The EMB official cited initiatives the agency is pursuing in line with the Clean Air Act, including a project to gather data from industrial sources in real-time.

Del Soccorro said a total of 70 firms in the Philippines already have existing continuous emissions monitoring systems, 35 percent of which are now connected to their Air Quality Network Operation Center. The project aims to reach 100 percent completion by 2022.

Source: Manila Bulletin (