CLARK FREEPORT— The Environmental Practitioners Association (EPA) has recently held its 16th Annual General Assembly and elected its new Board of Trustees on August 24 at the Fiesta Hall of the Midori Clark Hotel & Casino here.
The newly-elected President is Leslie T. Baun of International Wiring Systems Phils. Corp., who will serve his last term as President according to the EPA by-laws. The Vice President is Engr. Rogelio M. Magat, Manager of the Environmental Permits Division of Clark Development Corporation (CDC), with Cecil Perez of CRL Environmental Corporation as Treasurer and Engr. Jocelyn Timpug of Trust International Paper Corp. as Secretary. The Board of Trustees include Rolando Sta Cruz of Pactec Subic Inc., Roger Santos of R. G. Santos Construction and Victor Hontiveros of the Metro Clark Waste Management Corporation (MCWMC).
Baun thanked the more than 80-strong company members of the EPA for their continued support to his leadership. He promised that for the year 2017 -2018, the EPA will continue to educate, train and empower more environmental officers through its many training programs and environmental activities geared towards sustainable development for our country and its people.
Atty. Juan Miguel T. Cuna, a career service officer, was the guest of honor.
Regional Director Lormelyn E. Claudio of the DENR’s Environment Management Bureau (EMB) has only praise for Cuna who has also served as the Director of EMB and concurrent DENR Assistant Secretary.
Under the administration of President Duterte, Cuna was appointed as Assistant Secretary for the DENR Field Operations – Luzon.
He had oversight functions over the operations of the eight DENR Regional Offices in Luzon particularly on Forests, Lands and Biodiversity Management and Ecosystems and Research Development.
On July 14, Cuna was again appointed/promoted by President Duterte to the position of Undersecretary for the DENR and given more responsibilities in the area of field operations.
Cuna represented DENR Sec. Roy Cimatu who was not able to make it to the event. Atty. Cuna thanked the EPA for their full support to Secretary Cimatu’s DENR Administrative Order 2017-18 issued on July 3 which aims to expedite the issuances of Environmental Compliance Certificates (ECCs) through relegation of authority to issue such permits back to the director and regional directors of EMB.
Cuna said that he was the one who explained to Cimatu the rationale behind reverting back ECC issuances to the regional offices. He explained that centralized processing of all ECCs at the main office in Quezon City is counter to President Duterte’s aim to promote the of ease doing business in the country through the cutting of red tape.
He admits, that while it was said that centralized processing of ECCs at EMB Head Office was prompted by alleged anomalies or corruption in the EMB regional offices, Cuna said that the solution to this problem should be the filing of individual cases for corrupt officials of the EMB and the full power of the law be used to punish the culprits.
He noted, that industries should not suffer or be burdened by internal EMB problems on alleged corrupt practices.
He also said that the DENR needs the support of the industries to implement a partnership of self regulation. He praised the member companies of the EPA for fostering best environmental practices for sustainable economic development. “As it is, the Philippines has very good environmental laws,” he further added.
“The failure,” he noted , “is mostly on enforcement and implementation.”
For this reason, the DENR wants to have at least one lawyer in each of the regional offices to expidite the filing of cases against environmental offenders.