Environment ordinance in Neg.Occ. proposed
BY: ERROL ABADA GATUMBATO
The proposed ordinance of Negros Occidental Sangguniang Panlalawigan Member Emilio Yulo III requiring national government agencies and permit applicants to consult and secure an approval from concerned local government units before implementing projects, with potential ecological concerns in their areas, is a very important local legislation once approved and enacted.
Local consultation and approval are actually requirements of numerous national guidelines pertaining to environment and natural resources management, and the proposed ordinance of Yulo, chairperson of the SP Committee on Environment and Natural Resources, will ensure participation of LGUs in decision-making processes of projects that may likely adversely affect the environment, such as mining and other extractive activities.
The Environment Impact Assessment System and its associated implementing guidelines require consultation and endorsement by Local Government Units prior to the implementation of environmentally critical projects in their respective areas of jurisdiction. This is part of the social acceptability mechanism during the environment impact assessment stage of any proposed project falling under the EIA system, and a requirement before the issuance of the environmental compliance certificate for the said proposal by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. The proposed ordinance of Yulo localizes the application of this requirement under the EIA System of the Philippines.
It is also important to note that the proposal of Yulo is within the context of the Local Government Code and its relevant guidelines, particularly the Joint DENR – Department of Interior and Local Governments Memorandum Circular 2003 – 01 on the strengthening and institutionalizing the DENR-DILG-LGU partnership on devolved and other forest management functions. This guideline mandates pertinent DENR offices to submit comments by relevant LGUs on any application for tenure instruments, including resource extraction permits, before said instruments or permits are issued. The LGUs are given 15 days from the receipt of any application to submit comments to the DENR otherwise it will be presumed that the concerned LGUs fully endorse the said application.
Section 7 of the Joint DENR – DILG MC further stipulates that if comments of LGUs are not solicited for a particular permit, specifically issued within the forestland, the said permit shall be reviewed and all activities in the subject area shall likewise be suspended, until such time that comments of concerned LGUs are received. The guideline further warned the community, provincial and regional personnel of the DENR to be administratively in the event they failed to solicit the comments of LGUs and gave due course to the processing of the application. The proposed provincial ordinance clearly supports the provision of the LGC for LGUs to share responsibility with the national government in maintaining ecological balance in their respective territorial jurisdictions. The Sangguniang Panlalawigan, for instance, is given the authority to enact ordinances in protecting the environment and impose appropriate penalties on acts which endanger the environment.
DENR – DILG MC 2003 – 01 also provides opportunity for LGUs to participate in broader forest management functions through entering co-management agreement with the DENR. The co-management introduced in the guideline grants LGUs to manage identified forestlands covering even more than 30,000 hectares. Under this scheme, a management steering committee shall be organized to be responsible in policy and project development in forestlands subject of the agreement, with the concerned LGU chief executive and DENR representative as co-chair.
The agreement shall clearly specify the roles, responsibilities and accountabilities of officers and organizations involve in the co-management. The participation of civil society groups and relevant government agencies is encouraged in the management steering committee.
No comments yet.
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