Press Release
November 20, 2023


RE: Review Of Ecc, Sapas And Permitting System Of Large Infrastructure Project Inside Protected Areas

SRH: Salamat kaayu, Mr President so good sponsor to resume my interpellation earlier, it's a related topic doon sa iniwanan ni Sen Raffy, large projects inside protected areas, still on the subject of reviews of project for environmental compliance tulad noong unang paksa ko kanina sa reclamation sa Manila Bay. I'd like to bring to the attention of my colleagues two more protected areas that are now threatened by large projects. dalawa dito ay China-funded, Madam Sponsor, our esteemed colleague, Senator Sherwin Gatchalian said last 30th October that the Senate has convened an oversight committee to review 6 projects funded by China. While Senator Sherwin focused on delays and the financial aspects of these projects, my concern is with the environmental permitting process, specifically with the two projects in the list

Senator Cynthia Villar (SCV): Who identified the two projects and who are doing the study on the six projects? I'm chairman of the environment and natural resources, I haven't heard of this.

SRH: Yes, good sponsor. These 6 projects were identified by Senator Gatchalian I can retrieve the list he mentioned last October 30. He mentioned this in an article in a Philippine Star.

SCV: So it's an article, it's not in the Senate

SRH: No, he mentioned in the article that the Senate has convened an oversight committee to review six projects funded by China.

SCV: What committee in the senate?

Senate President Migz Zubiri (SP): I don't recall setting that oversight committee, your honors. Maybe under his committees which is Ways and Means and basic education? So, I don't recall. We have to be accurate because we don't want to impute any malice, my dear colleague

SRH: I stand corrected. Senator Sherwin said last October 30 that the senate will exercise oversight over... so I'm correcting my earlier statement that the Senate has convened an oversight committee.

SCV: Oversight over 6 projects? Were the six projects enumerated there?

SRH: The six China projects funded under ODA are the Mindanao Railway Project, Tagum-Davao Digos segment, the closed circuit television projects in the cities of Marikina, Paranaque, Pasig, San Juan and Vlenzuela, the new centennial water source or the Kaliwa Dam project which I will ask about tonight, the Philippine National Railways South Long Haul project or the PNR Bicol, the Samal Island Davao City connector project which I will also ask about tonight and the Chico River Pump Irrigation project, good sponsor.

SCV: Walang six ito, Bicol Project, Kaliwa Dam Project, Mindanao, CCTV, and then Chico River. There are only five.

SRH: The Samal Island Project good sponsor is the sixth. Samal Island Davao City connector project or SIDC or the Smala-Davao bridge. Thank you Good sponsor. While separated by seas and island, they share similar issues and here I'm again speaking about the two of those projects, Kaliwa Dam Project and Samal Davao bridge in both cases there were alternatives proposed that could have saved the government money in construction cost, interest on loans, and right of way acquisition while reducing the environmental impact, and in both cases, there were shortcuts, to say the least, in the environmental permitting process.

The approaches of the Samal-Davao bridge affect first Samal Island declared as a Mangrove Swamp Reserve by Proclamation 1021, series of 1981 and second, with a city-declared fish sanctuary in Barangay Vicente Hizon, Sr., Davao City. From sources in Davao City, I understand that pre-construction activities started without the proper Protected Area Management Board (PAMB) clearance. When it was issued, it was done without adequate representation at minadali. Now to Kaliwa Dam, good sponsor, there were also similar shortcuts in the process in issuing the ECC of Kaliwa Dam. The ECC was issued in Kaliwa Dam in mid-october 2019, despite pending issues related to dam safety, the consent of the Indigent Peoples, similar issue as raised earlier in other areas by Sen Raffy and the absence of concurrence and clearance from one of the two protected areas Management Boards. These issues were raised in the second review meeting in the second half of september 2019 but no third review meeting was convened to determine if these were resolved. So ang una kong tanong, good sponsor, pareho tungkol sa Kaliwa at sa Samal projects, hindi ba sa mga proyektong ito dapat doble ang pagrereview dahil nasa protected area tapos category A projects pa?

SCV: The status of the Kaliwa Dam project, ECC has already been issued in favor of the project. SAPA not yet issued under evaluation, and then MWAS implements the project and then NCIP with regards to NCIP, there was payment of 160 million, 80 million went for Rizal IPs and 80 million for Quezon IPs.

SRH: Pero masasabi ba natin good sponsor sa ganitong mga proseso at nagawa na at yung ilang kulang pa na sapat na yugn pagrereview dahil ang tingin nga po ng mga nagreraise ng mga tanong dito dapat nga doble ang pagrereview kasi nga po in the first place, sa protected area gagawin ang proyekto at category A projects pa. Isa pang tanong tungkol sa dalawang proyektong ito, ang Kaliwa at Samal, bakit pinayagan ang dalawang proyektong ito nang walang proper clearance ng PAMB?

SCV: In spite of agreement, they are reviewing again para walang complaint tong Kaliwa Dam project.

SRH: Pero tama po ba na good sponsor, sige isa-isahin natin, sa Kaliwa Dam project, walang proper clearance ang PAMB?

SCV: Mayroon daw.

SRH: Mayroon. Sa samal project po?

SCV: Samal Island is not a protected area. It is being studied to become a protected area. They call it an initial component so there is no PAMB.

SRH: Kung wala mang PAMB doon sa Samal Island kasi hindi pa siya protected area, study area did you say Sponsor ang tawag. sa kanya, pero ngayon pa lang nag reraise na ng concerns ang iba't ibang stakeholders doon

SCV: Samal Island is initial component

SRH: Sorry Initial component, nagrereset po yung iba't ibang stakeholders doon halimbawa po yung academic organization na Eco Ateneo na hindi pinayagang maging bahagi ng multipartite monitoring team hindi po pinayagan ng region 10 office. Isa po ito sa dumaraming stakeholders dyan sa Samal Isaland na nireraise yung cocnern na mayamang natitirang coral reef na maaapektuhan ng tulay and I suppose yan ang naging dahilan na subject of initial study kapag ganoon po kahit wala pang nabuong PAMB dahil hindi pa ito protected area, hindi ba't mas maigi to err on the side of caution at ayon hayaang mahinog yung proseso dahil hindi rin maliit na bagay ang isang natitirang mayamang coral reef area doon sa lugar na maaapektuhan ng proyekto, good sponsor

SP: Before the good sponsor answer, I stand corrected. There was an oversight committee that was elected in September 2022 a year ago.

SRH: Salamat kaayu

SP: So there's a congressional oversight committee on official development assistance ODA law it was headed by Senator Gatchalian, and members of the majority, Senator Angara, Marcos, Revilla, Ejercito, Poe and two members of the minority, Senator Pimentel and Hontiveros so I stand corrected for the record.

SRH: Daghang Salamat Mr President so this was the oversight committee that was mentioned by Senator Sherwin in the Philippine Star.

SCV: Mr President I just want to repeat that it is not a protected area that's why there's no PAMB and the one complaining have filed a case with the Court of Appeals and they lost the case, now it's in the Supreme Court, the petition for mandamus, so we cannot discuss this because it is in the Supreme Court parang bawal yung ididiscuss natin subjudice

SRH: Oh, good sponsor, With all due respect po and I'm Open to being please correct me if I'm wrong, pero kahit nga po sa mga committee hearings natin let alone itong mga plenary discussions na sinabi po natin na with all due respect we give sa judiciary for that matter, sa executive, in the exercise of our legislative function, natatalakay natin at least yung mga issue na kahit na tinatalakay na sa korte in the exercise of our legislative duties. So, kung hindi pa ako ikocorrect sa puntong iyan, kung hindi pa ako mali sa puntong iyan, I suppose na kahit umakyat na sa pinakamataas, no less than the Supreme Court, siguro ang pinakamabilis at pinakamabisang proteksyon na dapat ibigay sa kalikasan natin ay madedeliver ng executive dahil nga po may mga nagbring na sa atensyon ng DENR doon sa Davao City na napakayaman ng mga coral reef doon na natitira na masisira kapag natuloy ang tulay at samantalang mayroon namang alternatives na inihahain samantalang may mga kwestyon din tungkol sa financial aspect in terms of interest rates, etc. Kaya ang tanong ko po ay bakit ipinagpatuloy pa rin samantalang may posibilidad na dahil initial component na ito na baka huminog given enough time huminog to be declared as protected area Yun lang po good sponsor I think risonable pa rin pong matanong ng mga stakeholders sa area.

Tapos yung huling follow up question sa dalawang proyektong ito, partikular sa Kaliwa Dam, bakit sa Kaliwa Dam wala pang FPIC ang mga dumagat, nag-issue na ng ECC ang environmental management bureau?

SCV: Kasi tingin ko kasi nagbayad na yung NCIP. There was settlement, monetary settlement kaya parang hindi na sila dapat nagkocomplain kasi may monetary settlement na sa Kaliwa Dam

SRH: Pero hindi po ba kahit --

SCV: Sila nagkocomplain and there was monetary settlement so ano yun? Tapos mayroon ding prior consent ang IPs in Kaliwa Dam.

SRH: Ang good sponsor, sa pagkakaalam natin ang prior consent kailangang ma-embody sa isang FPIC at may tamang pagkakasunud-sunod nyan, di po ba dapat mayroon munang SAPA bago yung ECC? At yung SAPA din ay required bago ang FPIC siguro kahit may tinanggap na monetary compensation, kahit mismo yung IP ay bound ng batas na nagrerequire ng FPIC at kung may nakalilimot man, gobyerno ang unang magpaalala at mag-uphold nito

SCV: Dalawa raw po ang SAPA na kailangan, one from Rizal and one from Quezon. The SAPA from Rizal has been issued, acquired in July 23, 2023, yung Quezon ongoing process for signature yung SAPA sa Quezon. So Dalawang SAPA, yung isa waiting for the issuance

SRH: Yun na nga po yung binanggit ko na sa dalawang PAMB, isa pa lang nag kumilos favorably sa project, eh dalawang PAMB ang may jurisdiction sa dalawang area, kalahating SAPA ang inissue para sa proyekto at walang dapat magpatuloy --

SCV: That's why it is not being implemented, they are waiting for the SAPA of Quezon. Iba daw yung activity sa Rizal, iba yung activity sa Quezon kasi yung activity sa Rizal naissue-han na ng SAPA, yung sa QUezon lamang so iba ang activity, hindi sila gumagalaw sa Quezon. But yung IPs nagsign na sila, NCIP, di ba? Nag Sign na sila November 7, 2022.

SRH: Maaaring ganon nga po, pero iisang proyekto ang pinag-uusapan siguro arguable ang pareho nating interpretasyon sa sitwasyon. Dahil iisang proyekto ang pinag-uusapan, suguro ang bawat hakbang ay hindi dapat mag proceed a half step at a time dapat para may integrity talaga yung proseso buo ang bawat hakbang bago tumuloy sa susunod na hakbang and just for the record also good sponsor, doon naman sa Samal Project, para additional reassurance din sa atin na wala tayong nilalabag doon sa binanggit ng good sponsor na subjudice, ang Rodriguez family po ang nagfile ng case at hindi po yung Eco Ateneo.

Proceeding from these two projects, inuugnay ko po yung mga tanong sa mga request na ginawa naman ng ating at nabanggit ko po ito ginawa po ng ating senate president pro tempore si Sen Loren noong October 4, 2023 request nila sa DENR, tungkol sa inventory ng tenurial instruments lahat ng mga SAPA lahat ng PACBRMA at yung mga taong tumitira sa loob ng protected areas

SCV: The list of tenurial instruments they submitted to Senator Loren so if you want a list they can give it to you

SRH: Sasabihin ko lang sana na dagdag doon sa inventory na yun, nagrerequest din po sana ako na may review na gagawin partikular doon sa mga ECC at SAPA sa mga large infrastructure projects na nasa loob ng mga protected areas na yon simula na po doon sa kaliwa dam yung samal island projects at isama na po natin dahil originally nasa listahan ko rin yung tinalakay ni Sen Raffy sa Masungi. Gusto ko rin pon imanifest sa lahat. ng mga problema sa issuance ng ECCs sa protected areas sa Las Pinas wetland park siguro ngayon ay opportune time na simulang i-evaluate kung gaano kabisa yung Philippine permitting system. Nagkakataon po itong 2023 ay 45th nnaiversary ng PD 1586 na nagtatag ng Philippine Environmental Impact Statement Systems o PISS so limang taon mula ngayon golden anniversary na ng batas taong 2028 so harinawa by then mayroon na tayong mas magandang batas pa na papalakasin yung sistema para tugunan ang hamon ng pagcombine ng kaunlaran at rights of nature. So iwan ko muna yung paksang ito ng Large projects inside protected areas. At least na-put on record ko po yung paghiling doon sa pagreview ng mga SAPA at ECC sa large infrastructure projects sa loob ng protected areas.

SCV: Mr President I want to manifest that the DENR will review the permitting system kasi if you look at the reclamation projects kasi first local government ang inaapplkyan eh tapos pagka naaaprove na ng local government, pupunta sa PRA, parang last na yung pagpunta sa DENR, which should not be case, dapat mauuna ang DENR bago yung PRA and then the local government. Bakit ang local government ang magdedecide, we have to study whether it is the power of the local government to decide on these areas especially reclamation. It should be DENR.

SRH: Fair enough good sponsor, I join the good sponsor in that and then standing pa rin ang hiling ko. sa isang review at least doon sa mga ECC at SAPA na naibunga na ng kasalukuyang permitting system simula na nga sa unang tatalong proyektong pinag-uusapan natin. Pwede po ba yun, good sponsor?

SCV: Yes, we will review.

SRH: Hindi lang po yung permitting system pero yung mga ECC ar SAPA nung large infrastructure project sa protected areas

SCV: Yes.

SRH: Maraming Salamat, good sponsor.


RE: Calamba City Sanitary Landfill

SRH: Dako na po ako sa Calamba City Sanitary landfill. There is also this issue of effective enforcement of ECC conditions. So parang binabaybay na rin natin ang ilang hakbang sa permitting system na ito.

Nakatanggap ang aking opisina ng reklamo mula sa mga residente ng Southville 6, Brgy Kay-Anlog Calamba City, Laguna sa mabahong amoy na nanggagaling sa malapit na Sanitary Landfill. Ang Southville 6 ay isang resettlement site ng NHA.

This landfill received an ECC as a Category 1 Sanitary landfill on 30th July, 2018 samantalang nalipat ang mga tao - marami sa kanila galing sa riles ng PNR- simula 2010 hanggang 2015. Sa madaling salita, nauna ang Southville 6 tinayo bago ang sanitary landfill.

Ayon sa DAO 1998-50, the distance between the residential area and the sanitary landfill should be 250 meters. DAO-1998-50 implements PD 984 or Pollution Control Decree. Ang tambakan ng basura tabing-tabi na ng bakod ng Southville 6. Kahit malapit sa isang residential area, itong landfill was upgraded from Category 1 to Category 4 through a new ECC issued on November 16, 2019. The area of the landfill expanded from 1.2 hectares and 15 metric ton capacity in 2018 to a 6.6 hectare facility so times 5, good sponsor, now with a capacity of 250 metric tons of waste per day. So higit times 10 of waste per day.

On 24th July, 2020, the EMB issued a Cease and Desist Order (CDO) to the operator, S.B. Hain Enterprises and General Services, Inc. for numerous violations of the terms and conditions of the ECC. Nashutdown ang landfill subalit nabuksan muli ang landfill.

Because of the complaints of the residents, the EMB Provincial Environmental Monitoring Unit in Los Banos, Laguna undertook an investigation. In its letter to the complainants dated 11th September, 2023, the EMB investigators found violations of environmental regulations and recommended issuance of Notice of Violations (NOV).

In a Memorandum addressed to the Regional Director of DENR CALABARZON that was furnished to my office, the investigators stated that "an immediate closure of the landfill is not feasible."

Bakit po nangyari na merong landfill na natayo at nagtatambak ng basura sa tabing-bakod ng isang residential area, good sponsor?

SCV: According to the DENR Region IV-A they have a notice of violation and they have a hearing here and they have penalized the operator with 250,000, or 560,000 na penalty and I don 't know why it was shutdown and then it was opened again so what's the reason for that?

SRH: I share the question of the good sponsor, madam sponsor mabuti't naghearing pinenalize yung operator pero ang dapat ay itigil na iyan at sino ba namang tao ang karapat-dapat mabuhay sa tabi ng basura? This area is a relocation site, pabahay po ito ng gobyerno, and I hope we are not making it a habit of treating shoddily those who are beneficiaries of our low-cost housing programs. Pangalawa, good sponsor, bakit hindi ma-compel ng EMB ang operator na sundin ang ECC nito at patuloy pa rin ang violations ng operator? Madam sponsor gaya rin ng sinasabi ng minority leader ano naman ang 250 o 500,000 fine -

SCV: No it's the local government who chose the place for their landfill. It's not DENR and they have to, they are asking now for the operator to comply but it's not easy because they are being supported by the local government.

They said that they can close it with violation but they have difficulty right now they have to go through the process because the local government is supporting the project. So they have to go through the process para hindi sila makuquestion, They will have a technical conference.

SRH: Salamat, good sponsor. Habang ganito po ang sitwasyon, nahihirapan ang EMB na i-enforce ang sarili niyang ECC ay talagang kahit kalahating milyon ang penalty, ano yun sa mga taong nakatira doon mabaho pa rin ang nalalanghap nila. This operator, SB Hain, also operates a Sanitary Landfill in Tanauan, Batangas that has similar complaints about the foul odor from the surrounding settlements.Maigi magkakaroon ng technical conference, ano pong solusyon ang inaasahan sa conference nito?

SCV: They have to shut it down and go through the process because the local government is supportive of that landfill. Maybe they can ask the local government to find an alternative site for the landfill they have to go through the process kasi kapag kinakalaban mo ang local government in their area medyo mahirap yun di ba?

SRH: I can only wish the EMB the best of luck and more than luck, good sponsor, pangalawang malaking issue na po ito ngayong gabi sa interpellation sa budget ng DENR na napapagusapan yung difficulties between the department and LGUs baka kailangang tingnan ang ating mga batas kung paano pwedeng iimprove para i-unlock ang deadlock na ito. Kaugnay din po niyan, panahon na siguro upang ihiwalay ang enforcement ng ECC mula sa EMB at lumikha na ng ibang bureau. Muli kung hindi ako nagkakamali, alam ko na advocacy rin ito ng isa nating esteemed colleague, Senator Nancy Binay. Tama po ba? I'm willing to be corrected but I seem to remember na advocacy din ito ng ating colleague na si Sen Nancy na ihiwalay ang enforcement ng ECC mula sa EMB at lumikha na lang ibang bureau na siya na lang ang mageenforce.

SCV: Mr President there is a bill filed with regards to the enforcement bureau. Maybe you should look at it.

SRH: I will do that good sponsor, salamat

SCV: By Senator Nancy and Senator Bong revilla

SRH: Salamat po Good sponsor I would be glad to study the bill and join them. Iniisip ko rin Madam Sponsor, na itong lahat na mga problemang ito ay nag-uugat din sa mas malalim na conflict of identities and mandates ng DENR na nabanggit ko noong pinag-uusapan natin ang PENCAS bill kasama ni Sen. Loren. So sa isang banda, it is given the task of promoting the development of our natural resources. On the other hand, it is mandated to protect our environment. Eh napapanahon na rin na malutas na itong conflict na ito.

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