As part of the mandate of the Environmental Management Bureau – Central Office (EMB – CO) in protecting and advancing the right of people to a balanced and healthful ecology, the Air Quality Management Section (AQMS) conducted the Airshed Management Training Workshop last August 21-25, 2023, in Hotel de Fides, Tacloban City.

The opening remarks was delivered by the Bureau Director and concurrent Assistant Secretary for Field Operations, Engr. Gilbert C. Gonzales. In his address, he highlighted the workshop’s vital significance within the framework of the Philippine Clean Air Act, and its pivotal role in advancing the nation’s commitment to environmental preservation and public health. The Director expressed his profound optimism about the workshop’s prospective outcomes and encouraged all attendees to actively engage in the discussions and share their valuable insights.

Following this, Engr, Wilson Trajeco, the Director of Environmental Management Bureau of Region 8, greeted all the participants with enthusiasm and commended the efforts of all the organizers and the technical staff from Regional Offices in joining this workshop. He expressed his gratitude for their commitment to this vital cause, highlighting that their collective knowledge and dedication were essential to achieving meaningful progress.

Engr. Jundy del Socorro, Chief of the Air Quality Management Section (AQMS), took the floor to expound the structure of the program. With meticulous attention to detail, he provided a comprehensive overview, ensuring that all participants had a clear understanding of what to expect during the National Airshed Workshop. He began by outlining the presenters and their respective topics, highlighting the significance of each segment in addressing the challenges of air quality management in the Philippines. He also emphasized the interactive nature of the workshop, encouraging active participation from all attendees. He ended by expressing his confidence in the abilities of the participants to make a tangible difference in achieving better air quality.

After Engr. Jundy’s program overview, Engr. Lormelyn Claudio, the Regional Executive Director (RED) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Region 8 delivered an inspiring message. She emphasized her strong commitment to environmental stewardship and the vital role of air quality management in ensuring a sustainable future. Drawing on her experience, she shared successful environmental stories and encouraged everyone present to harness their passion for meaningful progress in air quality control and action planning.

The workshop officially begun with a series of presentations from all the regional offices providing updates on the status of Airshed Accomplishments, AQMF Utilization, Updates on the Airshed Assessment Checklist, Ambient Air Monitoring, Emissions Inventory and Challenges on the Designation of Attainment and Non – Attainment. The ROs also shared their best practices within their respective areas. These presentations served as a valuable foundation for understanding the diverse range of issues related to air quality management across the region.

Following the regional presentations, the University of the Philippines presenters proceeded with Dr. Lidasan leading the way. Dr. Hussein Sinsuat Lidasan, the former Dean of the University of the Philippines School of Urban and Regional Planning, delivered an insightful presentation on the topic of Land Use Planning in Urban Areas as a mean to combat air pollution stemming from Mobile Sources. During his engaging presentation, he also shared a relevant case study that shed light on the practical applications of these planning strategies.

Krishna Santos, representing UP IESM, provided a comprehensive overview of the Proposed H2S (Hydrogen Sulfide) Air Quality Guideline Values. In her informative presentation, she explained the significance of the AQGC and its potential impact on air quality management initiatives.

Allaysa Escobinas, also representing UP IESM, made good use of her presentation to provide a broad explanation of the One (1) Hour PM 10 Air Quality Standards. She expanded on the details and implications of these standards, offering a thorough consideration of their significance in the context of air quality management.

Dr. Mylene Cayetano, a distinguished member of the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology (UP-IESM), shifted the focus of discussion to the intriguing subject of Air Quality Forensics.

Dr. Flaviana Hilario, a respected professor from the University of the Philippines Institute of Environmental Science and Meteorology, enriched the workshop with her expertise in Principles of Atmospheric Meteorology. She also presented an insightful case study, focusing on Meteorological Assessment within an airshed context, exemplified by the Metro Manila Airshed.

On the third day of the workshop, Engr. Paul Vallar, Engr. Angelo Villegas and Engr. Felix Domingo representing the Air Quality Management Section, took the floor. They delivered a comprehensive presentation on the Airshed Emission Inventory covering Stationary Sources, Mobile Sources and Area Sources.

Continuing with the workshop agenda, Mr. Joel Tugano and Mr. Brix Faustino also representing the Air Quality Management Section, provided valuable insights and practical guidance on the Data Handling Protocol for Criteria Air Pollutants. They further explored the critical aspects of Siting & Design of Air Quality Monitoring Stations in the Philippines. Their expertise added depth and clarity to the workshop’s discussions, equipping participants with essential knowledge for air quality management.

Moving on to the fourth day of the workshop, Mr. Arnon Brix Faustino took the stage to present the Results of Airshed Validation from the regions they had visited. Their presentation provided valuable insights and findings from the stations, offering an actual perspective on the state of air quality monitoring stations in different regions, which was integral to the overall understanding of airshed management.

Following Mr. Faustino’s presentation, Ms. Mariam Salemizadeh took the floor to provide an informative session on the Updates, Process, and Financial Mechanism of the Air Quality Management Fund (AQMF) Fund 155. She highlighted the updates on the central office and regional office collections and deposits, BTR certified collections, releases and uncertified collections and remaining balance under the AQMF.   Addition, it was also discussed that as per directive of the Bureau of the Treasury that Regional Offices will secure their own BTR Certifications starting August 2022.

After all the fruitful discussions and agreements, Engr. Marcelino Rivera Jr., Chief of the Environmental Quality Management Division, delivered his closing remarks. In his message, he emphasized the significance in the broader context of air quality management in the Philippines. His closing message served as a unifying and motivating note, encouraging participants to carry the momentum of the workshop forward and to continue their dedicated efforts in ensuring clean air and a healthier environment for all.

To wrap it up, the National Airshed Workshop 2023 was a success, solidifying our dedication to Clean Air and a healthier Philippines. The workshop had not only provided valuable insights but had also fostered a sense of unity and shared purpose among all Regional Offices.