January 7, 2014

As discussed in a previous blog entry , the SEP Act of Palawan, or the Republic Act 7611: Strategic Environment Plan (SEP) for Palawan Act, is the national law that is the basis for determining and regulating the various investment and development activities that may be proposed to be put up in Palawan. The function of implementing the provisions of this law has been mandated to the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (or the PCSD).

In December 2007, a PCSD resolution (PCSD Resolution 07-344) was passed ‘enjoining the Department of Environment and Natural Resources ( DENR ) to allow SEP Clearance for projects in Palawan prior to the issuance of Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) as an exception to DENR Memorandum Circular No. 2007-08.’ DMC No. 2007-08, with an approval date of July 2007, was specifically circulated to streamline the requirements for ECC or CNC (Certificate of Non-Coverage) applications with the DENR. A particular provision of the said circular reads:

No permits and/or clearances issued by other National Government Agencies of Local Government Units shall be required in the processing of ECC or CNC applications.

Thus, PCSD Resolution 07-344 circumvents the simplifying intention of an earlier circular of a national regulatory government agency, adding another environmental requirement, the SEP Clearance, prior to approval and set-up of development or investment projects in Palawan. Although the wording of the PSCD resolution is in the form of a suggestive request— the PCSD resolution does not impose on the DENR to require an SEP Clearance for Palawan projects; the DENR can be argued to be of the same footing, if not higher, as a government agency vis-à-vis the PCSD— in actual practice, an SEP Clearance is being demanded as a pre-requisite for approval of ECC or CNC.

The requirements for an SEP Clearance may vary, depending on the type and magnitude of development or investment project being proposed. The requirements, however, generally fall under the following types: (a) EIS (Environmental Impact Statement) or IEE (Initial Environmental Examination) reports; (b) development plan documents (may include maps, ownership certificates, zoning certificates); and (c) endorsement or certification documents from various groups or identified stakeholders. The EIS and IEE reports are themselves needed for the ECC application process. The development plan documents are usually requirements for other related permits (e.g. business permits). The endorsement or certification documents are the potentially complex requirements, as these may involve public consultations and discussions with various groups and stakeholders (e.g. local barangay councils, interest groups, homeowners’ association), before finally obtaining resolution or agreement of any of these groups for allowing the proposed project.

Triple I Consulting, Inc. accepts inquiries regarding environmental permitting in the Philippines and concerns for doing business in Palawan.

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