To attract more investments in clean energy, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has vowed to reduce processing time for issuing environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) for renewable energy projects to a maximum of two weeks from the current 20 working days.

"I want to make a firm commitment that ECCs for renewable energy, not more than two weeks, they’re done. I don’t want to wait longer than two weeks," Lopez said.

"Any ECC for solar, for wind, for whatever, anything which will give us power and not damage people’s health … we want you in," she added.

A staunch advocate of renewable energy, Lopez said she wants the Philippines to "go aggressively into clean energy."

The environment chief made the statement last week when she announced the cancellation of ECCs of six more companies, four of them were from the mining sector and whose permits have expired since 1992.

ECC is a certificate issued by the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) following a positive review of the ECC application. This certifies that based on the application of the proponent, the proposed project or undertaking will not cause a significant negative impact on the environment.

An ECC has a validity of five years from issuance, whether or not an applicant starts operation, after which it is considered lapsed.

Lopez said the ECC cancellation was a necessary measure to prevent companies from damaging the environment and causing people to suffer.

"I want to bring forth the more touching thing which is they would have caused damage in the environment," Lopez said, adding that the "main determining factor is the well-being of people."

The four mining firms whose ECCs were cancelled by the DENR are Intex Resources Phils. Inc in Mindoro Occidental located in a watershed; Forum Cebu Coal Corporation (FCCC) in Cebu; CEKAS Development Corporation in Misamis Oriental; and Eaglerock Mining Corp. in Zamboanga del Sur.

Also cancelled were the ECCs of Mejore Wood Works Inc. in Surigao del Sur and Alltech Contractors Inc. in the coasts of Las Piñas and Parañaque, where there is a mangrove plantation.

DENR Undersecretary for Legal Affairs Maria Paz Luna said the companies with cancelled ECCs will have to show a new plan considering that there may already be changes in the condition of the environment in their sites. They also need to re-apply for an ECC if they intend to proceed with their operation, she added.

Last December, the DENR also cancelled the ECCs of five mining companies: Ipilan Nickel Corp., Core Mining Corp., Lebach Mining Corp., and Egerton Gold Phils. Inc. for having lapsed or expired ECCs, and Austral-Asia for operating near the Philippine eagle habitat and a bonsai forest in Davao.

According to the EMB website, ECC processing takes 20 working days from submission of all necessary requirements, which include geo-tagged photographs of the proposed project site, maps of impact/affected areas (showing at least 1km from the project boundaries) and a certification from the local government unit proving the compatibility of the proposed project with the existing land use plan. ###