A stunning reversal: Cimatu overrides Lopez, allows EMB chiefs to issue ECCs again

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  • DENR chief suspended predecessor’s previous order limiting ECC issuance powers to their office
  • He allowed Environmental Management Bureau heads to issue ECCS again
  • He said reversal in line with Duterte’s order to fast-track gov’t licenses and permits processing

MANILA, Philippines  –  Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has overturned his predecessor Gina Lopez’s previous order limiting the power to issue environmental compliance certificates (ECC) to his office alone; sparking concern from green groups who fear that it may again lead to unrestrained exploitation of the country’s resources.

In his order, Cimatu said he has allowed heads of the DENR line agency Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) to again issue EECs, in compliance with President Rodrigo Duterte’s directive for government to speed up the processing of licenses and permits.

“In DENR Administrative Order (DAO) No. 2017-18 he issued on July 3, Cimatu suspended indefinitely a previous DAO issued in February, which limited the authority to issue ECCs for both environmentally critical projects (ECPs) and non-ECPs only to the DENR Secretary, upon recommendation of the EMB Director as concurred in by the Undersecretary for Legal Affairs,” read the statement on the DENR website.

“In the interest of service and in order to expedite the issuance of the ECC in regional level consistent with the directive of the President to fast track issuance of government permits and licenses, [DAO] No. 2017-04 is hereby suspended indefinitely,” the statement added.

For their part, the Center for Environmental Concern said Cimatu’s order will essentially again expedite the wanton exploitation of the country’s natural resources.

“This new direction is seen to slacken project application procedures that will open up conditions for extractive and ruinous economic projects and investments that are detrimental to the country’s environment and natural resources,” executive director Owen Migraso said; adding that he hopes Cimatu will reconsider his decision on the matter.