The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has canceled the environmental compliance certificate (ECC) of the Coron Bay Development Project (CBDP)

In an order dated May 12, Joe Amie M. Salino, regional director of DENR-EMB MIMAROPA, ordered the provincial government of Palawan, the project proponent, to immediately suspend all activities in the reclamation project for the 51-hectare project in the island tourist town of Coron.

“The Provincial Government of Palawan being the registered Proponent of the project and a continuing corporate entity regardless of the elected local executive has the burden of ensuring that the conditions as stated in the ECC are strictly complied with including the submission of reportorial requirements,” read the order.

A P50,000 fine was also slapped by the environment bureau for the failure of the provincial government to comply with the required compliance monitoring report (CMR).

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Marion Raagas, one of the co-convenors of Sagip Coron Palawan, a civic movement that opposed the project, welcomed the development of their cause, pointing out that the move was merely the start of a “journey towards full rehabilitation”.

“The cancellation of the ECC is a major breakthrough in Sagip Coron’s efforts to resolve the illegal reclamation and quarrying activities in Coron Palawan. However, we are also cognizant that this is just the start of our journey towards full rehabilitation of Coron Bay and will bring back the livelihood of its people,” Raagas told Palawan News.

Lawyer Christian Jay Cojamco said that the provincial government will immediately seek reconsideration of the cancellation order as it maintains the status quo of the project.

Cojamco also said that all activities had been halted since February 2021, even prior to the issuance of the cease and desist order by the Philippine Reclamation Authority.

“The Provincial Government of Palawan has suspended all reclamation activities at Coron Bay since February 2021. Rest assured that this status quo will be maintained until all the necessary legal requirements have been complied with,” Cojamco said.

The provincial government, in line with its I-HELP Program, said it will continue to be committed with its efforts for the protection of the environment and the natural resources not only of the municipality of Coron but of the entire province of Palawan as a whole.

In July 2007, an ECC, with reference number ECC-4B-066-5020-2007, was granted to CBDP for the three-hectare coastal land to be expanded with 89,000 cubic meters of burrowed materials.

In October 2009, another ECC with Reference No. ECC-R4B-0903-073-5020 was issued covering the coasts of Brgys. 2, 3, and 5 in Coron town with a total area of 48 hectares.

The project has halted its operations between 2012 up to 2018, and resumed its work in 2018, without providing a necessary status of the project that violated one of the conditions of the ECC.

“Respondent failed to submit any report relative to the status of the project. In 2019, the project resumed its operations wherein it intended to finish the reclamation activities covering forty (40) hectares,” read further the four-page DENR-EMB order.

The joint of the DENR-EMB and the Philippine Reclamation Authority on March 24 to 28 revealed that the project only constructed a temporary drainage with no filtration system installed to filter the solid waste that goes into the stormwater with only a few box culverts placed in the drainage system.

A notice of violation (NOV) was subsequently issued by the environment department on April 4, 2022 against the proponents of the project.

On April 8, in its position paper, the proponents acknowledged the lack of CMR between 2012 to 2018, citing that the project was entered into created pursuant to a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) executed on November 5, 2009 between the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and the Province of Palawan.
However, DENR-EMB reiterated that the submission of CMR is “strictly timebound requirement” which must be submitted within the prescribed period.

On April 11 during the technical conference among DENR-EMB, and representatives from the provincial government and 428 Hi-Tech Group Inc., one of the contractors of the project, the proponents agreed that a full Environmental Impact System Study (EISS) will be conducted prior to resumption of activities and to consolidate both ECCs issued in favor of the project in order to reflect appropriate conditions considering the extent of the project.

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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.