Wrong address exposes fake DENR certficate
MANILA, Philippines – The wrong address of the Environmental Management Bureau instantly gave away a fake environmental compliance certificate (ECC) purportedly issued by the agency to a mining cooperative in Zamboanga del Sur.
Environment Secretary Ramon Paje ordered an investigation into the Balabag Indigenous People’s Minahang Bayan Producers Cooperative, which was purportedly issued an ECC by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ EMB with address on “North Avenue” instead of Visayas Avenue in Quezon City.
Paje asked the public to be wary of fake ECCs, saying that the Balabag mining cooperative may face criminal charges and other sanctions for the bogus document which bore his forged signature as well as that of Mines and Geosciences Bureau director Leo Jasareno as a recommending official.
He clarified that the MGB, another agency under the DENR, does not recommend the approval of an ECC even if it is for mining operations, and stressed that his department did not issue any certificate to the cooperative.
In the fake ECC, the cooperative is supposedly allowed by the DENR to conduct “open pit and tunnel method” in mining for gold and other minerals over an area of some 25,000 hectares in Sitio (sub-village) Balabag in Bayog town.
Supposedly issued on Oct. 20, 2014, the bogus ECC bears the EMB’s letterhead as well as the DENR’s official logo, giving 12 “conditionalities” and even a provision on the volume extraction of 240 tons a day “utilizing an open cut method by benching through minimal equipment and manual labor.”
What immediately drew suspicion was the EMB letterhead which had the wrong address of North Avenue instead of Visayas Avenue where the agency is actually located.
According to Jasareno, “Per DENR records, no such issuance exists and the signatures affixed to it are forged.”
The MGB head added, “Even if a project involves a mining project, ECCs are not being recommended for approval by the MGB. ECCs are granted by the DENR only through the Environmental Management Bureau, not MGB. MGB does not grant ECCs.”
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