Fisherfolk laments suspension of ECC-restriction
Manila, Philippines – The militant fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (PAMALAKAYA-Pilipinas) on Friday chided at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu for scrapping the order of his predecessor Gina Lopez to restrict the issuance of environmental compliance certificates (ECC) for both environmentally critical projects (ECPs) and non-ECPs.
Under the DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-18, Secretary Cimatu suspends Lopez’ DAO No. 2017-04 to fast track issuance of environmental certificates to the regional level. Under Lopez’ DAO, only the DENR Secretary has the sole authority to issue ECCs for both ECPs and non-ECPs within environmentally critical areas (ECAs). This was Lopez’ efforts to alleviate corruption and anomalous issuances of environmental permits to destructive projects like large-scale mining. But Cimatu gives back the authority to issue such permits back to the regional directors of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).
For its part, the fisherfolk group was dismayed by the present DENR Secretary’s order, saying this would be business as usual for the mining and developing magnates who are in league with unscrupulous and corrupt DENR regional directors that can easily acquire ECC for their destructive projects.
“We are not incognizant to the fact that big-time developers and mining companies manage to acquire environmental certificates despite their destructive type of business because of their secret connivance with corrupt DENR regional directors,” Fernando Hicap, PAMALAKAYA Chairperson said in a statement.
PAMALAKAYA said the order would also expedite coastal-based development projects such as reclamation, conversion, and eco-tourism zones pending throughout the Philippine waters that will be detrimental to the livelihood of fisherfolk and fragile marine environment.
“We fear that development aggression projects like the Palawan underwater-theme park, among others, would be implemented smooth as silk if proponents and developers could easily obtain environmental permits through the usual “payola” and under the table system,”
“Cimatu is imbibing the “pabaon” culture to his subordinates by bringing back the traditional granting of DENR permits without considering its implications to the integrity of his department and more over, to the environment. Lopez had already refurbished the disdained name of the DENR, we urge Cimatu not to ruin Lopez’ efforts,” ended Hicap.
Any project that poses potential environment impact is required to acquire ECC from the DENR by submitting the project’s Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). ###