The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in MIMAROPA has ordered the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) to probe the illegal land reclamation activities by William Tan Enterprise Incorporated (WTEI) in Barangay Luzviminda in Puerto Princesa.

DENR regional executive director Henry Adornado’s move was in response to the claims of the Environmental Legal Assistance Center (ELAC) that the WTEI project operated without reclamation permit from the Philippine Reclamation Authority (PRA) and environmental compliance certificate (ECC) from his office.

Adornado told Palawan News that they already instructed the Community ENRO to conduct an investigation as to how WTEI was able to operate without securing necessary permits.

“I already instructed our local office, CENRO, to conduct an investigation on the proponents whether they secured proper endorsements and clearances. If that’s found out to be true, then we will endorse a cease-and-desist-order (CDO) from PRA”, Adornado said.

ELAC sent a “notice-to-sue” to WTEI dated May 15 and a letter addressed to the DENR, CENRO, and Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) requesting to cause the immediate stoppage of the ongoing reclamation and construction in the Luzviminda area.

“The issuance of the certificate of non-coverage (CNC) is inherently problematic because the proposed cement terminal and warehouse complex are covered by the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system and classified as Category B or projects that are not categorized as Environmentally Critical Projects (ECPs), but which may cause negative environmental impacts because they are located in Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA),” ELAC’s position paper stated.

ELAC executive director Atty. Grizelda Mayo-Anda said that the city government responded by saying that they are open to considering a joint venture agreement (JVA) with WTEI.

The JVA will only be considered when the project is “almost in its completion”.

“If that’s true, then that’s highly questionable and dangerous. Yan ‘yong aming ire-raise sa administrative hearing,” Anda said.

The admin hearing is yet to be scheduled pending the result of the investigation.

To date, the management of WTEI has remained silent on the issue despite several attempts for an interview.

“Abangan ang susunod na kabanata,” Anda said.