EDITORIAL - A real crisis is looming from haze

The Freeman

Several places in Mindanao are reportedly in crisis situations owing to the haze that came all the way from forest and bush fires in Indonesia, fires that have been going on for several months now. Some of the places in Mindanao currently suffering from the haze are major cities such as Cagayan de Oro. Reports say Davao is also beginning to suffer as well.

The obvious concern resulting from exposure to haze involve health consequences, usually respiratory in nature. But so far, as what had been gathered from the news, the initial response of health experts in Mindanao consisted mainly of advisories to people to stay indoors and, when going outside, to wear face masks. Nothing more than that has been advised.

Here is Cebu, there had been a day or two very recently that the same haze had been experienced. But so far, the only semblance of government concern regarding the matter had been statements issued by weather experts. And because it is the nature of their work, all that the weather experts can do is describe the phenomenon. When the haze lifted, nothing more was heard of the issue.

But the haze is expected to worsen, not only because the fires in Indonesia are still burning, but because weather conditions are starting to make it easier for the haze from Indonesia to make a northern beeline toward the Philippines. Previously, wind patterns brought the haze to Malaysia, Singapore, China and other areas on the Asian continental land mass.

But because the winds are shifting, and also because of the recent weather disturbances, the haze is getting blown into a more northerly path, right straight to the Philippines. And yet the government is apparently very slow in reacting, if at all. It was apparently caught napping. Nobody seems to have taken into consideration the possibility that we might get hit despite the fact that Indonesia is just right below us.

There is a need for government to immediately respond to the emerging crisis, not only in Mindanao, but for the whole country, considering that we are all at the mercy of the winds. There is no barrier that can be put up to prevent the haze from coming. All that is needed are favorable weather conditions and the haze will blanket us all.

And if that happens, there will be a real crisis indeed. For the haze will not only bring health problems. It will also gravely affect business and travel. In Mindanao, there have already been some flight cancellations because of the poor visibility brought on by the haze. If it reaches Cebu and Manila and stays for quite a while, we are in really serious trouble.


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