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. #