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DENR Suspends All ECC Applications In Protected Areas

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DENR Suspends All ECC Applications In Protected Areas

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The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has suspended all Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) applications for projects located in protected areas (PA).

In a press briefing after visiting the Mount Apo Natural Park in Digos City, Davao del Sur on Tuesday, DENR Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga announced that all ECC applications will be reviewed first before approval by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB).

“We have issued a memo on all the regions that has PAs, suspended muna ang mga (we suspend for now the) processing of any ECCs, and any future ECCs now for the PA will have to be escalated to central office,” Loyzaga said.

“Part of that is no ECCs can be processed without the Biodiversity Management Bureau (BMB) giving its approval,” she added.

During the visit with Senator Ronald Dela Rosa and Presidential Assistant for Eastern Mindanao Leo Magno, Loyzaga said two resorts built inside the protected area of the natural park were found to have incomplete documents and permits for operation.

The DENR has not issued any closure order while evaluation is ongoing.

Loyzaga issued the memorandum dated March 26 to DENR regional offices and field operations nationwide, as well as to the bureau directors of the EMB and the BMB.

The memorandum contains directives on the strict monitoring of existing structures and the approval of ECCs for projects within protected areas.

DENR regional offices were directed to conduct an inventory of existing structures within PAs and evaluate compliance with environmental regulations and standards.

They were also directed to comprehensively review all ECCs issued for projects within PAs.

Loyzaga said the directive is consistent with the objective of the Republic Act 11038 or the Expanded National Integrated Protected Area System (ENIPAS) recognizing the critical importance of protecting and preserving the ecological integrity of all natural, biological, physical diversities and unique features of the environment within PAs.

For ECCs of environmentally critical projects, the memorandum states that clearance of the DENR Secretary or her duly authorized representative shall still be required.

Loyzaga issued the memorandum after a photo of a resort within the famous Chocolate Hills, a protected area in Bohol province, went viral in social media in February. (PNA)