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BRIEFER ON HOUSE BILL NO.

3253

TITLE

AN ACT TO STREAMLINE THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA) SYSTEM, AMENDING P.D. 1586, AND FOR OTHER PURPOSES REP. GILBERT C. REMULLA

AUTHOR

RATIONALE/BACKGROUND PD 1151, the Philippine Environmental Policy, required all agencies and instrumentalities of the national government, including government-owned or controlled corporations, as well as private corporations, firms and entities to submit and review the environmental impact statement for every proposed project and undertaking which significantly affects the quality of the environment. In 1978, Presidential Decree 1586 established the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) System for the pursuit of a comprehensive and integrated environmental protection program whereby the exigencies of socio-economic undertakings can be reconciled with the requirements of environmental quality. Presidential Proclamation No. 2146 identified the major categories of Environmentally Critical Projects or those located in Environmentally Critical Areas first defined in PD 1151. Since then, the implementing rules and regulations, its amendments, administrative orders, and other issuances have governed the implementation of the EIS System. The following decrees, rules, and orders are among those that have been issued during the last twenty-five (25) years: PD 1152 (Philippine Environment Code, 1977) PD 1586 (Philippine EIS System, 1978) IRR-PD 1586 (1979) Presidential Proclamation No. 2146 (ECPs and ECAs, 1981) NEPC Office Circular No. 3 (1983) Rev. of IRR-PD 1586 (1st revision, 1984) DAO 1992-21(2nd revision of IRR-PD 1586) DAO 1992-30 (3rd revision of IRR-PD 1586) DAO 1996-37 (EIS Operating Manual) DAO 1997-16 (Programmatic EIA, limited application) DAO 2004-61

During the past quarter century that witnessed the shift from an era of development and political centralization to one of expansion and political pluralism, the question whether the EIA should be utilized as a planning and management tool or as a regulatory instrument remains. Likewise, policy conflicts between environmental protection and economic interests, and between science and social-cultural sensitivity, require resolution. It has been suggested within the ENR sector that the overly liberal interpretations of the broad provisions of the original laws have caused much confusion among proponents and the general public and that there are serious doubts regarding the legality of certain issuances and procedures. A strong business sector lobby to streamline the lengthy, uncertain and costly process recently forced the DENR to take the review of the System and the enactment of a new law to heart.

CONCLUSION/RECOMMENDATION In summary, there is a need for the enactment of a law for the following: 1. To restate government commitment to achieve environmental protection within the context of sustainable development, 2. To promote increased multipartite participation from planning to monitoring, 3. To establish mechanisms for EIS review for policies, plans and programs, 4. To strengthen monitoring systems, 5. To develop an environmental information system or database, 6. To set up a revolving fund to sustain budgetary requirements for reforms, and 7. To rationalize devolution of functions and local implementation. More urgently, as a process that involves various agencies, the EIA process needs to be fair, timely and consistent without sacrificing the quality of assessment. The Committee on Ecology, to which the EIA bill has been referred, must conduct the first public deliberation of the measure to inform stakeholders about it and to solicit their formal position on its provisions. Due to the highly technical nature of the subject matter, various Technical Working Group meetings are recommended to be held thereafter for the purpose of refining the provisions of the bill.