BAGUIO CITY– The Cordillera office of the Environmental Management Bureau (EMB-CAR) ruled the on-going facelift of the city hall ground is not covered by the law governing the conduct of the required environmental impact study (EIS)( which is a requisite for the issuance of an environmental compliance certificate (ECC)
In Monday’s regular council session, Maria Dorica Hipe, EMB-CAR regional technical director, explained the on-going repair and upgrading and fencing of the city hall grounds is exempted from the required conduct of the environmental impact study because the area covered by the project is less than one hectare which falls under the exemption provided for by the law.
She pointed based on the provisions of Presidential Decree (PD) 1586 and PD 2146 as well as the new implementing rules and regulations of the said laws, the city hall facelift project which is now being undertaken by the city buildings and archit4ecture office (CBAO) amounting to over P11.7 million has a land area below one hectare that is why there is no longer need for the conduct of the initial environmental impact study.
“We believe the on-going city hall ground repair project is compliant to existing environmental laws and regulations, except in cases where there are trees to be cut within the area,” Hipe stressed.
Lawyer Renato Bestre, legal counsel of the Cordillera office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR-CAR), said the agency has nothing to do in the identification of heritage and historic sites and the law on the declaration of heritage sites or historic landmarks does to involve in the identification of such sites.
He informed the city council members that the agency already wrote the local chief executive to first secure the appropriate tree cutting permit with the agency if there are trees to be cut with the on-going project In compliance to the marching orders of President Benigno Simeon C. Aquino III on the total log ban.
According to him, the power on the identification of heritage and historic sites is solely lodged with the National Heritage Commission of the Philippines (NHCP) and that the law did not involve the environment department in the delineation and identification of such sites.
NHCP and National Commission on Culture and the Arts (NCCA) executives failed to appear before the city council last Monday to shed light on whether or not the repair and fencing of the city hall grounds falls within the ambit of their powers that requires the city government to first secure their consent prior to the implementation of such projects.
In February 2009, the National Heritage Institute (NHI) posted a marker within the city hall building declaring it is a heritage structure but in March 2010, the new law or Republic Act (RA) 10066 governing the declaration of heritage sites requires the submission of the owner of the property for the declaration of such sites as historic markers among others which will be subjected to the conduct of public hearings.
The city council scheduled on May 18 the conduct of further hearings on whether or not the city hall ground repair project is part of the declared heritage site that requires the consent of the NHCP prior to the conduct of further improvements among others. In order to uplift the status of such site located within the perimeter of the city hall structure.
By Dexter A. See