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Companies seeking consultation before DENR’s ECC audit

Companies holding environmental permits, but not engaged in the mining business, want to hold dialogues with the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to ensure smooth compliance with government regulations.

To ensure other business will not suffer the “chaotic” fate of some mining companies, a number of businessmen now want to meet with the DENR for a proper consultation before the agency starts its “intense evaluation” of their environmental compliance certificates (ECCs).

Business groups fear that other industries, including property, manufacturing, infrastructure, construction, and power, could be interrupted once the DENR starts the reevaluation.

MB FILE - DENR logo 2016.mb.com.ph

MB FILE – DENR logo
2016.mb.com.ph

“I don’t believe the guidelines on the intense evaluation on ECCs beside mining have been discussed with other sectors . There should be consultation first before implementing,”  Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) President George Barcelon told Business Bulletin.

“Otherwise it would be chaotic like what happened to the mining industry,” he added.

PCCI is currently the largest and most influential business organization in the country,

Makati Business Club Executive Director Peter Perfecto has the same appeal to the DENR.

“My call and appeal to the DENR is for constructive dialogue and consultation with the business sector so that we can hopefully agree on a mutually acceptable evaluation process so that we then are able to help each other achieve our shared goals towards a better Philippines,” he said in a text message.

When asked about this, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said she is open to have a dialogue with the companies first but she didn’t give any other details as to when and how this will happen.

“Yes, absolutely, just to be fair. Yes we will talk to them so they can give their side,” Lopez told Business Bulletin.

Lopez said the DENR will prioritize suspending projects that have the most negative impact on the government, putting emphasis on coal-fired power projects.

“We will do all. We will do coal because so many people suffer from coal and saying yes to coal means getting stuck with it for 25 years!” she further said.

The DENR will likely start the audit of 800 existing ECCs next month.

DENR Undersecretary for Legal Ipat Luna said on Tuesday that the agency will come up with a set of guidelines that will set the direction for the audit on ECCs.

According to her, companies with existing ECCs will be formally informed of the said audit once the guidelines are issued.

When asked how long the audit will take, Luna only said “SGL [Secretary Gina Lopez] instructed that it must be done fast”.