The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources in Region 7 (DENR-7) has ordered the local government here to cease and desist from further undertaking ongoing rehabilitation works at this city’s Rizal Boulevard.
The agency also suspended the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) it had issued earlier for the project.
The order, dated Sept. 2, 2019 and signed by EMB-7 regional director William P. Cuñado, was received at the City Hall on Tuesday, which prompted Mayor Felipe Antonio Remollo to order the stoppage of “civil works of the rehabilitation and shoreline protection of the Rizal Boulevard” the following day, City Public Information Officer Dems Rey Demecillo said on Thursday.
The EMB-7 order noted that while it had issued the ECC to the Dumaguete local government unit (LGU) last June 18, 2019, one of the requirements was for the proponent to first secure a Notice to Proceed from their office before the actual project implementation.
However, it was further noted that the Dumaguete LGU had already started the rehabilitation project even in the absence of the Notice to Proceed, the order stated.
“Clearly, such act is a blatant violation of the terms and conditions of its ECC, and should be accordingly penalized to serve as a deterrence to others similarly situated that compliance to the terms and conditions of the ECC should be strictly and faithfully observed, or the consequence would be costly,” the order read.
As a result of this violation, the EMB-7 ordered, pursuant to Sec. 9 of Presidential Decree No. 1586, that apart from the ECC suspension and the cease and desist order, the Dumaguete LGU to pay a fine of PHP50,000.
The city government, will comply with the requirement to secure a Notice to Proceed, Demecillo said.
Earlier, in a Facebook post, Mayor Remollo was quoted as saying that the order “is one of the several suspensions of Environmental Compliance Certificates or ECC issued to different quarry operations throughout the province of Negros Oriental”.
The mayor “laments that the boulevard project has been singled out, considering that there are reclamation projects, both ongoing and completed, elsewhere in the city and the province undertaken by the Department of Public Works and Highways without ECCs but were spared by the selective EMB order.”
Further, Remollo said that “he is also aware that too much pressure and bullying were employed against DENR officials during the recent congressional hearing of the national budget to stop the project, which is primarily intended to protect the city’s shoreline and coastal barangays from storm surges and flood.”
The estimated 1.7-hectare rehabilitation project of the boulevard, which oppositors including environmentalists say is a “reclamation project”, designed as a venue for sports and recreation, and other national and international events. (PNA)