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Lopez suspends certificates of La mesa project, quarry

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 06:10 AM October 15, 2016
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / NINO JESUS ORBETA

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has suspended the environmental compliance certificates (ECC) of a housing development project in the La Mesa watershed in Quezon City and of a quarry in Mati, Davao Oriental.

In a press conference yesterday, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez announced the suspension of the ECCs of the Century Communities Corp. project in the Quezon City watershed and of the Austral-Asia Link Mining Corp. quarrying site in Mati, based on a new audit the DENR is conducting of some 800 previously issued ECCs.

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No MWSS clearance

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According to Maria Paz Luna, whom Lopez introduced as the undersecretary for legal services, Century’s ECC was “rendered ineffective” due to the company’s continued failure to obtain a clearance from the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS). Luna also noted the lack of a required groundwater survey.

On the other hand, the Austral-Asia quarrying site in Barangay Macambol and covering 5,000 hectares, is situated between two heritage sites: a centuries-old bonsai or pygymy forest and Mt Hamiguitan.

Biodiversity assessment

“We sent our [biodiversity management bureau] there to do a biodiversity assessment of the area and there’s so much there,” Lopez said.  She said the mine operations were “putting at risk the biodiversity” in the area.

Luna said the DENR deemed “untenable” Austral-Asia’s proposed solutions to the siltation and stockpiling issues.

“We will now go into an intense evaluation of all ECCs and all MPSAs (mineral production sharing agreement)… And in the review of these ECCs and MPSAs we  may even come up with new and better policies at the DENR,” Lopez said.

In a statement to media, Century Communities said it would appeal the DENR’s suspension of its ECC, saying there was “no definitive basis” for it.

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Awarded via sale

There has been no development work on the property to date, the statement said, adding the property is located some two and a half kilometers away from the reservoir.

The property was awarded through a sale by the MWSS to its employees of a housing project. These private rights to develop a housing project on the property was ”upheld with finality by the Supreme Court in 1975,” the statement said.

“Our company remains open to discuss with the DENR and the various sectors on whatever conditions or additional requirements will be imposed on the project to further safeguard the public interest,” the statement said./rga

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TAGS: Davao Oriental, DENR, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, ECC, Environment Secretary  Gina Lopez, environmental compliance certificates, La Mesa watershed, Lopez, Mati, MWSS, Quezon City
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