DENR clarifies Environmental Compliance Certificate issued to Aklan reclamation project

A June 2, 2011 press release by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) today clarified that the reclamation project covered in an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) issued by the bureau in 1999 included only the 2.6-hectare area on the Caticlan side, but not the bigger portion of the project, which includes the Boracay side.

This, even as the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) confirmed that the 37-hectare portion of the 40-hectare reclamation project—which includes a portion on the Boracay side—has yet to secure an ECC. He also stressed that his agency will not issue any notice to proceed (NTP) to the project proponent, which is the Aklan provincial government, unless an ECC has been secured.

“Environmental protection is of top priority; thus no ECC: no NTP,” said PRA chief Peter Anthony A. Abaya. The PRA is the approving authority for all reclamation projects.

EMB Assistant Director Gilbert Gonzales issued the clarification after the Boracay Foundation Inc. (BFI) petitioned the Supreme Court to issue a temporary environment protection order (Tepo) against the project pending the conduct of an environmental impact assessment (EIA). The BFI has cited a study by University of the Philippines marine biologists about possible effects on tidal flow in the area.

Gonzales said that the EMB is aware of an existing memorandum of agreement (MOA) signed between the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the provincial government of Aklan for a 40-hectare reclamation project covering Caticlan and Boracay, including a three-hectare portion of Boracay.

He further stated that although the EMB has yet to receive a copy of the MOA or any application for an ECC for the said project, he assured the Boracay stakeholders that “all concerns regarding the environment and natural resources for the project, whether in Caticlan or Boracay, will be fully addressed by the EIA process.”

Gonzales also said that the DENR-EMB regional office in Iloilo has already been instructed to validate the environmental concerns raised by BFI. However, the investigation will only be in the 2.6-hectare area covered by the ECC in Caticlan.

Abaya said his agency will be conducting further review of the remaining phases of the reclamation project, particularly on the Boracay side, and that they will be seeking comments as well from the Department of Tourism.