THE new head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has bared his plans for the first time, vowing to speed up the issuance of environmental permits.
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu also said in a speech last Thursday the DENR would push for “clean and green” energy development, proper management of water resources and solid waste, and responsible mining.
Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief, took over the DENR last month from Regina Paz Lopez, whose nomination to the post was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.
Speaking before the European Chamber of Commerce of the Philippines on June 15, Cimatu said he has introduced changes to the Environmental Impact Statement system that businesses need to go through to secure environmental clearances, as well as in the processing of tree-cutting permits.
“One, we have provided facilities for online application for the environmental compliance certificate to shorten the process,” Cimatu said.
“Two, authority to issue cutting permits of planted trees has been delegated to the regional office. Further delegation to the Penro (Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office) and Cenro (Community Environment and Natural Resources Office) is being considered,” he added.
Cimatu also said the DENR supports the Department of Energy in the implementation of Republic Act 9513, or the Renewable Energy Act of 2008.
The DENR will implement the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) and the recently signed Joint Credit Mechanism (JCM) between the Philippines and Japan, he said.
CDM is a financial mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol that allows developed countries to implement emission-reduction projects in developing countries in exchange for carbon credits.
Under Executive Order 320, the DENR is the national authority for CDM, with its Environmental Management Bureau as the secretariat.
So far, the DENR has received a total of 119 CDM project applications, of which 70 have been successfully registered. The 70 projects are composed of 21 large-scale and 49 small-scale projects, and are mostly renewable energy initiatives.
The JCM meanwhile is a partnership between Japan and the Philippines to facilitate emission reduction projects, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and waste handling and disposal.
Cimatu said the DENR is working hard reduce pollution at landfills and dumpsites by promoting “waste-to-energy” (WTE) or the process of generating energy in the form of electricity or heat from the primary treatment of waste.
“WTE technologies and projects are starting to gain momentum in the Philippines. There are now quite a number of projects making use of WTE technologies,” Cimatu told European businessmen.
He cited three WTE projects in the country supported by European countries: the Quezon City Controlled Disposal Facility Biogas Emission Reduction Project backed by Switzerland and Italy; the Montalban Landfill Methane Recovery and Power Generation Project financed by the United Kingdom; and the Cebu City Landfill Gas and Waste to Energy project supported by Spain.
Cimatu noted ongoing efforts to improve the management of the country’s water resources.
An assessment of water resources is being conducted in areas facing supply constraints and in major river basins, to come up with more informed and science-based policies and plans for systematic water resource allocation and development, he said.
The National Water Resources Board will implement “appropriate water policies,” he added.
As regards responsible mining, Cimatu said the DENR would continue to “strictly enforce mining and environmental regulations, and mining operations found violating laws, rules and regulations shall be subject to penalties, suspensions and/or cancellation.”
“Mining in the Philippines can only be responsible if the development of the country’s mineral resources will be on the basis of technical feasibility, environmental sustainability, cultural and social acceptability and financial viability. The absence of one will not render the project responsible,” Cimatu pointed out.