EMB exempted Manila Bay project from ECC

Published September 16, 2020, 10:12 PM

by Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz

The chief of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) insisted on Wednesday that the Manila Bay “beach nourishment” project, classified as an “enhancement” activity, did not go through the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System as it has been issued a certificate of non-coverage.

EMB OIC Director William Cuñado

In a webinar organized by environmental group Oceana Philippines, EMB OIC Director William Cuñado said a certificate of non-coverage was issued by the previous EMB director. 

EMB is an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“This is more of an enhancement project as the previous director has classified. I also looked at it and it thus falls under this category,” Cuñado said.

The EMB chief’s statement is contrary to a statement issued by the DENR last Tuesday saying the project “passed the required environmental impact assessment.” 

Oceana Philippines has been questioning the absence of an EIA study for the beach nourishment project saying the issuance of only a certificate of non-coverage “is a solid evidence of non-compliance and willful violation of the national laws.”

The certificate of non-coverage refers to a document issued by the DENR stating that the proposed project is not covered by the Philippine Environmental Impact Assessment System, therefore, the proponent is not required to secure an environmental compliance certificate or ECC prior to the commencement of activities.

“If you have an EIA, you are required to identify all the impacts and establish mitigating measures,” Cuñado said.

“This project is not under the environmental impact assessment system because this is an enhancement project, there is no need for the environmental impact study. This is a nourishment of the area so it falls under enhancement projects,” he added.

Meanwhile, the Rotary Club of Manila (RCM) has expressed its support to the DENR for its efforts in the improvement, beautification, restoration and cleanup of the Manila Bay.

RCM president Bobby Joseph said DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu has been instrumental in carrying out the Supreme Court Mandamus ordering 13 government agencies to clean up, rehabilitate and preserve the bay. 

“The mandamus was long neglected since 2008, and Manila Bay continued to deteriorate over the years,” he said.

Joseph noted the dramatic improvement on the quality of the water as well as the construction of the first solar-powered sewage treatment plant at the Manila Yacht Club, which has been operational for about a month now.

The DENR is expected to establish three more STPs in Parañaque, Las Piñas and Cavite.