Higher-level approvals ordered for protected-area ECC requests

THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said on Tuesday that it suspended the processing of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) for projects within protected areas, requiring such applications to undergo higher-level approvals.

According to a memorandum signed by Environment Secretary Maria Antonia Yulo-Loyzaga, “All pending and future ECC applications for projects within (protected areas) processed by the regional offices shall be submitted to the Environmental Management Bureau for final review and approval,” the DENR said.

It added that clearance from the Biodiversity Management Bureau would also be needed for projects.

ECCs for projects located in environmentally critical areas will also require the approval of the Secretary or an authorized representative.

The DENR has also ordered an inventory and review of all existing structures within protected areas.

It added that the DENR will evaluate such structures for compliance with environmental regulations and standards.

A “comprehensive review” of all ECCs issued for projects within protected areas will also be conducted by the agency.

Earlier, the DENR said that a resort located within the Chocolate Hills in Bohol had been operating without an ECC. The DENR issued the resort a notice of violation on Jan. 22 and ordered it temporarily closed.

In a 1997 Presidential proclamation, the Chocolate Hills were designated as a National Geological Monument and a Protected Landscape. — Adrian H. Halili