june 28, 2013
By Cha Monforte, Rural Urban News
After all, the strangely feared-at Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) is easy to comply with, amid all superlative talks and veiled warnings of wily consultants and ECC preparers about its alleged difficult, meticulous requirements and hefty cost.
“There are just 10 requirements for ECC application and a payment of P4,000 for all types of projects regardless of cost, may it be P1-million or P100-million worth of project,” informed Alnulfo Alvarez, chief of the Environment Management Bureau of the Dept. of Environment and Natural Resources-XI based in Davao City.
These requirements are the transmittal letter, notarized Initial Environment Examination Report (IEER) with accountability statement, zoning certification, proof of ownership, site development plan, photos of the site, barangay resolution interposing no objection, geographical coordinates, and Project Environmental Monitoring and Audit Prioritization Scheme (PEMAPS).
“We have easy-to-comply pro-forma documents like the IEER and PEMAPS that proponents would have only to check in a list and state few relevant information,” Alvarez added.
“Most importantly,” he added, “we have imposed a 30-day period for us to approve the ECC application, starting upon receipt of the ECC application with complete documents, and failure on our part to act on it within the said period, it means the application is automatically approved and they can commence their project.”
For projects not covered by ECC, the EMB would have to only issue a Certificate of Non Coverage (CNC), “which takes only one day to process and only P100 payment,” said the EMB-XI chief.
He further informed that upon receipt of ECC application, EMB would have its fast initial review, and if the project is covered by an ECC, the application would have to be given to the assigned case handler, who would have to conduct inspection and review within 15 days from receipt of the case.
DENR has now an online nationwide database and geographic information system that incorporates ECC projects for easier analysis and fast ECC recommendation and approval, Alvarez said.
Asked on why the ECC has been strangely feared at, Alvarez answered in gist: “Nahimong ang livelihood ang ECC sa mga consultant ug preparer (ECC preparation has become a source of livelihood of consultants and preparers).”
There are reports that some ECCs are made by enterprising consultants and preparers at five- to six-digit sum.
ECC is required in Environmentally Critical Projects (ECPs) and projects in Environmentally Critical Areas (ECAs), regardless whether it is government or private project.
Alvarez said that there are some banks that require ECC as a requirement in their loan application although the project is not an ECP or within ECA.
“Issuance of ECC for small scale mining remains to be suspended since early this year. However, for big mining covered by Mineral Production Sharing Agreement (MPSA) and Financial or Technical Assistance Agreement (FTAA), ECC is issued by EMB Manila office,” he bared.
ECC is often looked upon as the end product implementing Presidential Decree No. 1586, the law establishing the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System since 1982.
PD 1586 is sought to be amended by a pending bill called as Philippine Environmental Assessment System. The bill, which seeks higher penalties for violators, is now on the second reading in the outgoing Congress.
Under PD 1586, an ECC requirement should be complied with for ECPs and projects in ECAs presumed to have significant impacts on the quality of the environment.
Among those listed as ECPs are heavy industries, resource extractive industries like major mining and quarrying projects, forestry projects (logging, major wood processing projects), extraction of mangrove products, grazing, fishery projects (dikes for/and fishpond development projects), infrastructure projects like major dams, major reclamation projects, major roads and bridges, all golf course projects and others.
Among those listed in ECA categories are all areas declared by law as national parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves, sanctuaries, areas set aside as aesthetic potential tourist spots, areas which constitute the habitat of any endangered or threatened species of Philippine wildlife (flora and fauna), areas which are traditionally occupied by cultural communities or tribes, areas frequently visited and/or hard-hit by natural calamities (geologic hazards, floods, typhoons, volcanic activity), critical water bodies, mangrove areas, coral reefs and others. (Rural Urban News/Cha Monforte)