Cimatu suspends Gina Lopez's order on ECCs

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has "suspended indefinitely" an administrative order issued by his predecessor which required the environment chief's approval of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) of projects critical to the environment.

In a new administrative order dated July 3, Cimatu said he was suspending
Gina Lopez's February 15 order "in the interest of service and in order to expedite the issuance of the [ECC] in the regional level consistent with the directive of the President to fast-track issuance of government permits and licenses."

Lopez's DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 2017-04 gave the DENR secretary the  sole authority to issue ECCs for both environmentally critical projects (ECPs), and non-ECPs within environmentally critical areas (ECAs).

Under this DAO, the secretary decides on the issuance or non-issuance of ECCs upon the recommendation of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) director with the concurrence of the undersecretary for legal affairs.

Following the suspension of the administrative order, the approving authority for ECPs is back with the DENR secretary and/or the EMB director, while the approving authority for non-ECPs within ECAs has been given back to the EMB director and/or the EMB regional directors.

In a statement on Thursday, July 6, Cimatu said his directive "can also be viewed as our contribution to making the country more investor-friendly."

The latest DAO, which takes effect immediately, also directs the EMB "to undertake further review of the Environmental Impact Assessment procedures and policies and to recommend to the Secretary the possible amendment or revision thereto."

According to the DENR, ECPs are development projects that have high potential for significant negative environmental impact. These include heavy and resource-extractive industries like mining, and infrastructure projects.

Meanwhile, the following are considered ECAs: 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.

Cimatu replaced Lopez in May, after she was rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointments. – Rappler.com

Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.

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