Lack of ECC specifics causing ‘insubstantial compliance’ by agri firms in Bukidnon

MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 3Dec) – The lack of specific terms and conditions of the agricultural plantations’ environmental compliance certificate from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) is giving way to compliance that is “not substantial enough.”

Malaybalay Vice Mayor Roland Deticio admitted to MindaNews today at the end of the second day of their inquiry on the agricultural firms’ environmental mitigating measures that the firms show they are trying to comply with the ECC.

“But not to the extent as expected (to ensure environmental protection),” he added.

He cited the provision to ensure there is catch basin for water in the plantations. “Would you put up one catch basin only in 5 or 10 hectares?” he asked.

He said the firms are not forced to comply with a specific number of catch basins in a number of hectares of plantations because the ECC document does not put it in details.

He said the city council does not seek to alter the authority of the DENR to administer the ECC requirement and compliance among firms.

“We are trying to supplement what we think is lacking in the ECC. The terms and conditions are very general,” he said. “There should be proportionate protective provisions,” he added.

He said they are only trying to put a local mechanism to ensure environmental compliance as the local communities receive the brunt of effects for the lack of it,” he added.

“As far as we are concerned, we are not going outside the ECC. We only try to define it (to make it easier for implementation and monitoring),” he said.

The city council is eyeing an ordinance that will make it easier to monitor the adherence of agricultural companies to the terms of the ECC issued by the DENR.

In the first day of the inquiry last Tuesday, Deticio said the current ECCs do not quantify the provisions on silt traps, tree plantations and other measures that would mitigate the impact of an agricultural company’s operations.

Robert Tado, a member of the multi-partite monitoring team secretariat as chief of the Bukidnon Environment and Natural Resources Office pollution control services, told this reporter in an earlier interview that EMB regional director Sabdullah Abubacar supported the idea of quantifying ECC requirements during a workshop on best practices for soil conservation on Sept. 19 in Cagayan de Oro City.