EMB 7: We don’t okay projects near rivers, floods not our fault-A A +A
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
THE Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the government agency tasked to protect the environment, yesterday washed its hands of any liability in approving projects that constrict waterways, resulting in floods in Metro Cebu.
Director Fernando Quililan of the DENR Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) 7 said that his office is just furnished copies by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH), for National Government projects, and by the Office of the Building Official (OBO) for City Government undertakings.
Quililan said DPWH and OBO just inform the EMB that they have approved projects located along waterways. “They (DPWH and OBO) just send us copies of the building designs. That’s it,” he added.
Businessman Joel Lee of the Movement for a Livable Cebu urged the DPWH, OBO and DENR to involve civil society in evaluating projects that may affect water ways.
When asked for comment, Assistant District Engineer Renault Ricardo of the DPWH 6th Engineering District referred Sun.Star Cebu to DPWH 7 officials, who could not be contacted as of press time.
Lee, a civil engineer, said it is sad that government agencies give less importance to waterways and remember them only when the rains come and the streets are flooded.
“Floods have affected the living and working conditions in several areas in Metro Cebu. When can these government officials who can initiate or have the power to issue permits agree to work together for a comprehensive drainage plan?” Lee asked.
Meanwhile, Quililan said the Ciudad Development Project was not discussed in the DENR 7 executive committee meeting yesterday.
He said there is no action yet on Ciudad because of the memorandum issued by DENR Undersecretary Roberta Teh, prohibiting the cutting of trees.
“But we will still endorse the project. In the meantime, we are waiting for some clarifications from our central office in Manila,” Quililan said.
The DENR denied the application for environmental compliance certificate of Ciudad, a
joint project of the Capitol and a private firm, because of the proponents’ failure to secure a tree cutting permit.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on June 26, 2012.