DENR Undersecretary Jonas Leones during a press briefing on Friday. (Photo courtesy of PTV4 / Facebook)

An environment official said the Coron reclamation project will have difficulty securing an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) because of violations already committed.

In an interview aired on government-run media PTV4 on Friday, Undersecretary Jonas Leones of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said the project proponents will undergo intense screening, citing the previous violations in the development of Coron Bay.

“Kailangan muna natin makita ang kanila liability. Pangalawa, baka mahirapan na tayo kasi may mga violation na sila sa Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) and kailangan i-screen natin if they can faithfully comply with the requirements. Definitely, dahil sa ginawa nila, medyo mahihirapan silang mag-renew or mag-apply ng ECC. Palagay ko dadaan sila sa butas ng karayom dahil sa mga ginawa nilang violations,” Leones said.

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The statement came after the provincial government earlier expressed its move to seek a reconsideration of the ECC cancellation.

Leones admitted that there had been lapses on the part of the environment department in the monitoring of the project, which were primarily attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“May kaunting lapse doon, dapat nakikita ng CENRO, PENRO, or Region ‘yong progress ng gawain. It’s hard to admit dahil medyo nagkulang tayo sa pagtingin doon. Minabilis kasi parang ang nangyari, during pandemic, doon sila nagmadali, kung saan busy tayo sa pag-address ng COVID-19, hindi natin napansin na sila busy sa pag-arya ng pag-arya,” Leones added.

In an order dated May 12 issued by Joe Amil Salino, regional director of the DENR-EMB in MIMAROPA, the ECC for the 51-hectare Coron Bay Development Project was cancelled, immediately suspending all of its reclamation activities in the island tourist town.

The project was granted an ECC in July 2007 for a 3-hectare coastal reclamation in Coron. In October 2009, two years after the first ECC was issued, a second ECC was given, allowing another 48 hectares to be reclaimed.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.