DENR to host BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting in Palawan

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is hosting a meeting of the environment cluster of the Brunei Darussalam-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) slated for July 10-14 in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.

DENR senior officials led by Undersecretary Demetrio Ignacio will comprise the Philippine delegation to the sixth BIMP-EAGA environment cluster meeting, which will focus on the best practices and guidelines for sustainable ecotourism, farming and fishing among member countries.

During the meeting, updates on the two BIMP-EAGA projects of the Philippines will be presented. Environment Management Bureau Region 13 Director Engr. Wilson L. Trajico will apprise the cluster on the Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Potential Entities and DENR Region 9 Director Felix S. Mirasol, Jr. will take up Turtle Conservation and Ecotourism Development in the Turtle Island Heritage Protected Area.

There will also be discussions on the BIMP-EAGA Green Cities Initiative and the lessons learned by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in its implementation, and presentations on various projects adopted by each member country

Other The BIMP-EAGA projects include Indonesia's Sustainable Ecotourism Best Practice Contribution to Climate Resilience in Critical Ecosystem; and Malaysia's Mantanani Island-Integrated Low Carbon Island, and Development of Environmental Education Module and Board Games on Marine Environment for Communities in Sabah.

Some 15 delegates from the four member countries are expected to attend to meeting together with representatives from the ADB, BIMP-EAGA Business Council and the BIMP-EAGA Facilitation Center based in Kota Kinabalu.

Ignacio is the environment cluster head of the Philippine-EAGA. Joining him in the delegation are his deputy, DENR Region 11 Director Ruth Tawantawan, the Environment Management Bureau (EMB) regional directors, assistant regional directors for technical services and chiefs of planning and management division in Regions 4B, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13.

Representatives from the Mindanao Development Authority and the Palawan provincial government will also attend the meeting.

The BIMP-EAGA was formed in March 1994 with the goal of increasing trade, investment and tourism in the region. It consists of the entire Sultanate of Brunei Darussalam; 10 provinces on the islands of Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku and Irian Jaya in Indonesia; the states of Sabah and Sarawak, and the Federal Territory of Labuan in Malaysia; and Palawan province and Mindanao region in the Philippines.

In the environment cluster, the focus of cooperation includes sustainable management of critical ecosystems, climate change adaptation and mitigation, clean and green production technologies; addressing transboundary issues; and environment mainstreaming.### 

Cimatu expedites ECC issuance, delegates issuing authority to EMB execs

Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu has moved to fast-track the issuance of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) by giving the authority to issue such permits back to the director and regional directors of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), a line bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-18 he issued on July 3, Cimatu suspended indefinitely a previous DAO issued in February, which limited the authority to issue ECCs for both environmentally critical projects (ECPs) and non-ECPs only to the DENR Secretary, upon recommendation of the EMB Director as concurred in by the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs.

"In the interest of service and in order to expedite the issuance of the ECC in regional level consistent with the directive of the President to fast track issuance of government permits and licenses, [DAO] No. 2017-04 is hereby suspended indefinitely," Cimatu's administrative order reads.

It will be recalled that during his first day in office last year, President Rodrigo Duterte gave marching orders to his Cabinet to cut red tape in the bureaucracy and make the entire government more responsive to the needs of the people.

Cimatu said the new DAO is not only in response to the President's directive, but also serves as the DENR's way of promoting the ease of doing business in the country.

"This is consistent with the President's directive to fast track the issuance of permits, licenses and other documents issued by government, and can also be viewed as our contribution to making the country more investor-friendly," Cimatu said.

The new DAO conforms to the DENR's Manual of Authorities on Technical Matters, which provides that the authority to issue environmental permits for ECPs is bestowed upon the DENR Secretary and/or the EMB Director.

The manual also provides that the authority to issue permits to non-ECPs within environmentally critical areas (ECAs) and certificate of non-coverage lies with the EMB Director and/or EMB regional directors.

ECPs refer to development projects that have high potential for significant negative environmental impact. These include heavy and resource-extractive industries, such as mining, and infrastructure projects.

ECAs, on the other hand, refer to national parks and sanctuaries, tourist spots, habitats of threatened wildlife species, tribal community areas, prime agricultural lands, and water bodies and other coastal and marine ecosystems.

An ECC is issued to certify that based on representations of the proponent, as reviewed and validated by the Environmental Impact Assessment Review Committee, the proposed project or undertaking will not cause a significant negative environmental impact.

It also certifies that the proponent has complied with all the requirements of the Environmental Impact Assessment system and is committed to implement its approved Environmental Management Plan. # 

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