METRO CEBU has been blanketed by haze in the past few days, prompting local environmental authorities to issue a public advisory; however, a state meteorologist in Mactan deemed the phenomenon as “insignificant,” noting that it has not disrupted airport operations or impacted any flights.
Alfredo “Al” Quiblat Jr., chief of the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (Pagasa)-Visayas, said Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, that they had categorized the phenomenon as haze.
Pagasa defines haze as particles of fine dust suspended in the air that produce limited visibility.
Quiblat said the situation has improved on Monday, adding that “there might not be haze already, but we are still monitoring.”
Quiblat revealed that aside from their station in Mactan, the haze was observed in areas such as Bohol, Palawan, Dumaguete City, Maasin City, and Tacloban City.
The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7, an attached agency of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, announced in a Facebook post on Friday, Oct. 6, that Metro Cebu was experiencing a light haze.
In light of these conditions, they advised the public, especially vulnerable groups like individuals with underlying health issues, the elderly, and children, to stay indoors and refrain from outdoor activities.
They stressed the significance of precautionary actions, such as wearing masks, as a crucial means of preventing respiratory illnesses.
Quiblat said that from Pagasa’s perspective, the haze in Cebu over the weekend is of “minor significance.”
“While the presence of haze could potentially reduce visibility, our assessment provided to airport authorities ensures the safety of their operations,” he said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
He said they are responsible for providing advisories, especially when haze particles have the potential to affect the visibility of the pilots.
Quiblat said there is a specific regulation or policy in place.
It stipulates that if the haze particles remain below the five-kilometer (km) mark, no formal reporting is required. However, if the haze surpasses this threshold, it triggers a notification to the airport management.
“In light haze, the visibility is at seven kilometers or nine kilometers. This poses no threat to the operations of flights,” he said.
Quiblat said they are in no position to release health advisories as this should be given by experts at the Department of Health (DOH).
He also said they cannot provide details of the content of the haze, which is supposed to be a result of a test by EMB.
The meteorologist, however, suspected that the haze in Metro Cebu might be due to the forest fire in Sumatra, Indonesia.
He said the wind direction in the past few days was in the southwest direction, which could carry particles from Indonesia to the country.
He added that on Monday, they observed that the wind direction was going to the northeast, which resulted in an improved situation with the haze.
In a text message on Monday, an EMB representative said they are supposed to have a press conference with DOH on the matter; however, they are yet to determine the results of their air test.