Updated July 01, 2009 12:00 AM [ BusinessWorld Online ]
MANILA, Philippines - Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Lito Atienza yesterday announced proposed drastic changes in the agency’s procedures in the issuance of environmental permits, including forestry and mining permits, in an effort to improve efficiency and eradicate corruption.
“I assure investors and businessmen, both foreign and local, that the Department will undertake reforms that would hasten the issuance of permits by removing unnecessary requirements that would impede their operation,” Atienza said during the Multi-sectoral Consultation on Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System Policy Direction at the Social Hall of the DENR in Quezon City.
Atienza said that the main reason that investors are reportedly setting their focus on other places for business opportunities is because of unreasonable and restrictive rules that accompany the environmental permitting system.
“The simplification of the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) procedures is not just about reducing processing time, but more importantly, to strengthen accountability, improve efficiency, remove opportunities for corruption and promote transparency for sustainable development,” Atienza emphasized.
Atienza said the simplification of procedures in the DENR permitting system is in consonance with President Arroyo’s program on reducing bureaucratic requirements that blocks the flow of investment into the country.
Atienza, however, emphasized that the proposed simplification process will not compromise environmental protection as he stressed for strict monitoring by the DENR.
As proposed, Atienza said the issuance of ECC will be reduced from six months to 20 working days to one month, while the certificate of non-coverage (CNC) will be cut down from three weeks to one day.
The DENR chief also said that the local government units (LGUs) will be given greater responsibility in the determination of social acceptability aspect of the proposed projects.
“The local government units, being at the forefront of development in the countryside, are more in a position to determine the acceptability of projects within their respective areas, in accordance with their land-use plan,” Atienza said.
Present during the meeting were land developers, industry associations from mining and forestry, business groups, non-government organizations, representatives from international development agencies and media.