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Noise Standards in the Philippines

April 2012
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Caught a show on television featuring noise pollution in the Philippines. The feature on noise included the reporter accompanied by a person who measured ambient noise using a portable noise meter.The results were quite interesting if not surprising, including the alarming measurements inside a high school classroom at a building beside EDSA. There was also the segment where hearing damage was covered, particularly those derived from workplaces (e.g., factories).

Of course there are many sources of noise, but it seems that much of it nowadays is associated to vehicular traffic (e.g., tricycles, trucks, etc.). Nevertheless, we often disregard a lot of the other sounds around us because they are part of what we hear everyday and we have gotten used to them. To be able to appreciate the totality of the sounds (noise) that we often disregard, much is actually eliminated when we have blackouts. That means no TV, no stereos, no electronics that produce sounds that we take for granted.

I reproduce below the three pages of what was the National Pollution Control Commission’s Memorandum Circular No. 002, Series of 1980, as published in the Official Gazette of the Republic of the Philippines, which until now serves as the basis for noise standards in the country. Recent initiatives led by the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau seeks to update/revise these standards and a draft has been circulated to members of an inter-agency committee and industry. Perhaps our local governments could take a look at laws that are often set aside in part because of a lack of instruments to be able to quantify noise. I think curbing noise pollution should significantly improve our quality of life and would have positive impacts to our health.

Page 1 of the NPCC Memorandum Circular No. 002, Series of 1980

Page 2 of the NPCC Memorandum Circular No. 002, Series of 1980

Page 3 of the NPCC Memorandum Circular No. 002, Series of 1980

Perhaps the material above should serve as a basic guide for local governments and private citizens in monitoring noise. People should be knowledgeable of what can be considered as unacceptable. We have never been known to understand and appreciate the concept of externalities such as those from congestion and emissions. So the next time your neighbor decides to go on a karaoke session or revs up his motorcycle, you have a basis for making a complaint and maybe even using the memo for reference in your barangay!


10 Comments

  1. Pete Smith says:

    Looking for answers, I live in a subdivison, so many animals here, roaming, there waste is everwhere, kids play in it, and also constant barking, 24 / 7, there are 15 dogs within 35 meters of my house, I watch the kids play, and wonder if the parents realize the risk of disease, or a attack of these dogs, have tried to talk to the home owners assciation, but usless, are ther any answers out ther?

    • d0ctrine says:

      It is the responsibility of the association and/or the barangay to manage strays. Inaction means your association and barangay are lousy. In the case of noise like karaoke by the neighbors, you probably have to fend for yourself. This is not to generalize though because there are many good communities out there. In our neighborhood, there are very few strays and we even have strict garbage segregation. And security reminds homeowners to keep the noise down after 10PM.

    • Cebu Anti Noise Pollution Advocacy says:

      Presidential Decree 1151
      Philippine environmental Policy

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you for posting this. I’ve been suffering for years from noisy people all over the country… Most people are so oblivious that they are too loud.

    All day, late night and until early morning karaoke concerts must be banned. I don’t care if they’re deaf, they should be considerate enough to spare the neighbors from the repulsive cacophony they produce. Lowering their volumes down(especially the bass for most new speakers which emits more low frequency sounds that even penetrate the deepest of normal walls) is a must and shouldn’t invade the nearby house’s space. I really hate it when I hear my neighbor’s music from 8 houses away playing louder than my T.V.

    Unceasing barking from dogs should be enough cause to fine the owners and teach them how to properly discipline their pets too. Barking at random strangers just passing by and way out of the dogs’ territories is unacceptable behavior. It just shows how irresponsible the owners are.

    Any firecracker that produces enough noise loud enough to sound like an actual gunshot must be banned unless it’s a special public celebration like New Year’s Eve/Day. Our laws should incorporate those from other countries that only allow stores to sell firecrackers 3 days before a public celebration starts, and lets them fire them up only for 1-3 days. Individuals who use them on birthdays and other personal events must be punished. I extremely abhor getting repeatedly woken up at night to random large booms 4 months before Christmas until after the subsequent months past New Year!

    I’ve always felt out of place in this country for most people are uncouth and inconsiderate. So much for the only predominantly Christian country in South East Asia…

    If everyone only learn to respect other people, there wouldn’t be so much chaos in this world.

    • d0ctrine says:

      I share your sentiments. Noise is a pollution that is often taken for granted. Even vehicle noise (e.g., triycles, trucks, etc.) have become a problem in many areas. The DENR is coming up with a revised set of noise standards soon. However, it is still up to the local officials to enforce these.

      • I hate Noise says:

        What happened to House Bill No. 1839? (Please go to this link to read about this bill: http://www.congress.gov.ph/download/basic_15/HB01839.pdf). Why until now this is not yet enforced? When is this country going to do something about this problem? Most Filipinos easily get sick and die at a very early age because of too much noise

        I come from Cebu City and noise pollution is very very bad here. Even the so called informal settlers (the squatters!) who are supposed to have less in life spend money on huge amplifiers and disturb the whole place. Neighboring condominiums, hotels and decent subdivisions are affected by their blaring music. If you call the barangay officials, they won’t act on your complaint. (Take note that most politicians here bank on these people in slums and squatter areas for their votes come election time). My friends already wrote Bishop Palma (primarily because of discos during fiestas which is supposed to be to commemorate a saint), the barangay officials, each of the Cebu City Councilors and the Mayor but still nothing has been done.

        The Sinulog celebration in Cebu is fast approaching. It is the time of the year when Fuente Osmeña is ridiculously NOISY. Just image around 4-6 huge amplifiers is placed every 15 – 20 meters! When you pass by even inside an airconditioned car, you will feel the vibration! Why even government officials are so ignorant about the danger of too much noise????

        Christmas is just around the corner and kids are already starting to disturb the neighborhood all day long with firecrackers. This will go on until March. I will expect this Dr. Tayag of the Dept, of Health to be enjoying media coverage again on his campaign against use of firecrackers. But despite their efforts, still you see a lot of people hurt. Why can you not enforce laws to completely ban the use of firecrackers? Dr. Tayag, when are you going to campaign to stop everyday noise in the Philippines? Dept. of Health officials are you aware that NOISE is the reason why Fiipinos die young? Are you not aware of the danger of too much noise. When are you going to move?

  3. Noisy Muntinlupa says:

    There’s no such thing as noise standards in the Philippines. In fact government officials condone noise inducing activities. Such as in Muntinlupa where government officials lend for free chairs, table and tent for videoke parties. You could even have a street closed for your party. No permit needed. Village officials will even join your party or sing.

  4. Cebu Anti Noise Pollution Advocacy says:

    I would like to commend the author of this article. I have been a victim of noise pollution for the past years and even sued a tanod in our barangay for putting up a video karaoke machine in the middle of a residential area. I have been working in the BPO industry for 8 years and honestly paying taxes to the government realized how ignorant the Filipino society in terms of nuisance and respect to the community. The Karaoke machines are rampant nowadays and the masses can easily afford it. However, time has change and the working hours is no longer the same as before. As part of my advocacy and learned from experience, I have decided to form an organization to push, educate and penalized violators of the basic human rights. (The Right to have a harmonic and quite place). However, it is sad to say that even the local government has no control or even not trying to make a serious implementation for a peaceful environment.

    Here are some laws against noise pollution which I want to share.

    P.D 856 Chapter XIX Nuisance and Trades Occupations Section 84.

    Presidential Decree 1151
    Philippine environmental Policy Section 3. 5 & 6.

    Cebu City Ordinance 1940 (Special Provision)

    The Cebu Anti Noise Pollution Advocacy supports this article.

  5. Stuart Jones says:

    I have observed the huge increase in motorbike sales over the past 5 years, and most bike owners immediately remove the muffler and replace with a straight through pipe. They roar around at night when most people want to sleep. I have measured 80 dba at 60m from the national highway, between 10pm and 3am. They are a major source of noise pollution and should be stopped. Its time for DENR and local police to be proactive and enforce the law. If fines were imposed on noise violators, the cost of measuring equipment would soon be recovered and would create another worthwhile source of income for local authorities.

  6. Chris McKay Go says:

    In our subdivision, we allow parties in our clubhouse until 12:00 midnight. And we also start out the day with loud aerobics exercises at 8:00 A.M. It doesn’t matter how loud the music is to the residents of Tierra Pura. All we care about is generating income from the rental of the club house and covered basketball courts. It doesn’t matter if the players on the covered court scream and shout profanities. And to cap it all off, we have construction work being done on the covered courts when there are no activities on the clubhouse or covered court. Our construction workers fire up angle grinders and hammer metal parts despite the residents complaing. I particularly don’t consider this my problem since I live several blocks away from the covered court and club house and so the noise isn’t bothersome to me.

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