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Gina’s order blamed for projects’ delay

ILOILO CITY—Various construction projects have been delayed due to an order issued by former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez requiring all Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECC) to be submitted to her office for approval.

The projects include large buildings, restaurants, gasoline stations and even government housing projects for survivors of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (international name: Haiyan),  officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said in a meeting here with DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu.

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An ECC is a document issued by the DENR certifying that a proposed project or undertaking will not pose environmental hazards or damage and that its proponents are capable of implementing measures to protect the environment.

Lopez issued a memorandum requiring all applications for ECCs to be submitted to the office of the undersecretary for legal and then to her office for approval, according to Ariel Gloria, Western Visayas director of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

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“Until now all applications from Region 6 are pending. We have received many queries, especially from big industries why the ECCs have been withheld,” Gloria said in the meeting.

Lopez’s directive amended the administrative order issued by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo delegating the approval of ECCs to regional executive directors and the director of the EMB central office.

Jonas Leones, DENR undersecretary for policy, planning and international affairs, said that around 5,000 ECC applications nationwide were being processed for approval or rejection daily.

Under existing regulations, complete applications for the issuance of ECCs have to be acted upon by the DENR within 20 to 30 days or it will automatically be considered approved.

Jim Sampula, DENR Western Visayas executive director, said Lopez issued the memorandum before she vacated her post “for reasons I still don’t know.”

“[ECC applications] have piled up at the central office. Imagine, you need to go Manila to get an ECC for a small business?” Sampula told reporters.

He said the backlog has delayed housing projects of the government for Yolanda survivors.

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TAGS: DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, environmental compliance certificates, Gina Lopez, Philippine news updates
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