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The Online Magazine for Sustainable Seas
March, 2002 Vol.5 No.3

The Philippine Environment Impact Statement System and what it entails
Projects in the Philippines that are likely to have considerable environmental impact are covered by a comprehensive legal and procedural framework that highlights public participation in the review process and the projects’ social acceptability. This article explains the system and its requirements.

-- Excerpted from Philippine Management Guidebook Series No.7: Managing Impacts of Development in the Coastal Zone by Mary Gleason (Coastal Resource Management Project), James Maragos (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and Lloly de Jesus (Tetra Tech EM, Inc.)





he Philippine Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) system provides the legal and procedural framework for conducting Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for projects likely to have significant environmental impact. The Philippines formally established the EIS System in 1978 through Presidential Decree (PD) 1586 that designated Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Environmental Management Bureau (EMB) and DENR Regional Offices as implementing agencies. The EIS system was designed to safeguard the Philippine environment and natural resources in the face of growing industrialization and urbanization. Through DENR Administrative Order (DAO) 96-37, DENR upgraded the EIS system and revised the implementing rules and regulations. DENR recently issued DAO 2000-05 that highlights the importance of public participation and social acceptability in the environmental review process.

The EIS system is a safeguard against the negative impacts of industrialization and urbanization on the Philippine environment.

The system: Coverage and procedures
The EIS system requires completion of an EIA and preparation of an EIS report for any environmentally critical project (ECP) or any project located in an environmentally critical area (ECA) as described in Tables 1 and 2. DENR determines whether a proposal is an ECP or will be implemented in an ECA; if either or both of these conditions apply, then the proposal is required to secure an environmental compliance certificate (ECC). For ECPs, the EIS System requires preparation of an EIS because these projects will most likely have high risk or negative environmental impact. ECPs include major resource extractive projects, major infrastructure projects, fishpond development, golf course resort development, and major industrial development projects.

ECAs are areas that are ecologically, socially, or geologically sensitive; many coastal habitats such as mangroves, coral reefs, and municipal waters are classified as ECAs. For projects in ECAs, the EIS system requires an initial environmental examination (IEE) that includes a project description, and may require an EIS. After a thorough review of the project plans and EIA documents submitted by the project proponent, the project will be issued an ECC by DENR.

Table 1. Environmentally critical projects.

  • Heavy Industries: including non-ferrous metal industries, iron and steel mills, smelting plants, and petroleum and petrochemical industries, including oil and gas;
  • Resource Extractive Industries: including major mining and quarrying projects, forestry projects (logging, major wood processing, introduction of exotic animals in public or private forests, forest occupancy, extraction of mangrove products, grazing), and fishery projects (dikes for/and fishpond development projects);
  • Infrastructure Projects: including major dams, major roads and bridges, major power plants (fossil-fuelled, nuclear, coal-fired, hydroelectric, geothermal), and major reclamation projects; and
  • Golf Course Projects: golf courses and golf resorts are now subject to EIS requirements
  • Other: Many other types of coastal projects not explicitly listed above may, at the discretion of DENR, require an EIS if they are considered ECPs. Some likely examples include major resorts or hotels, airports, ports, shoreline fortifications, fish processing plants, and major military development.

Table 2. Environmentally critical areas.

  • National parks, watershed reserves, wildlife preserves, and sanctuaries declared by law;
  • Areas set aside as potential tourist spots;
  • Habitats of endangered or threatened species indigenous to the Philippines;
  • Areas of unique historic, archaeological, or scientific interest;
  • Areas traditionally occupied by indigenous people and cultural communities;
  • Areas frequently hit by natural calamities (geologic hazards, floods, typhoons, volcanic activity, etc.);
  • Areas with critical (steep) slopes;
  • Areas classified as prime agricultural lands;
  • Aquifer recharge areas;
  • Water bodies used for domestic supply or support of fish and wildlife;
  • Mangrove areas supporting critical ecological functions or on which people depend for livelihood; and
  • Coral reefs with critical ecological functions.

Some environmentally critical areas (A. White, H. Cabangon, T. Parras)

Projects not covered under the EIS system include:

  1. Projects that are not ECPs or not located in ECAs
  2. Projects or structures that have been operating or existing since 1982, even if they are ECPs or in an ECA; however, expansion of developed area or production output by these enterprises requires an ECC.

If any of the above criteria apply, DENR-EMB or the Regional Office can issue a Certificate of Non-Coverage (Exemption Certificate) certifying that the project will not significantly affect the quality of the environment. DENR provides direction and review of the EIS System and issues an ECC. EMB is responsible for review and issuance of ECCs for all ECPs. The DENR Regional Office reviews and issues ECCs for projects located in ECAs.

Overview of the national EIS system

DAO 96-37 also explains:

  • The preparation of an initial EIA;
  • Scoping procedures;
  • Who is allowed to prepare EIS and IEE documents;
  • Who shall be accountable for the validity of an EIS;
  • Who reviews the EIS or IEE;
  • How decisions are made on a proposed project’s ECC;
  • How appeals on an ECC can be made;
  • The fees and costs needed for processing and review of an EIS;
  • Monitoring the project’s compliance;
  • The environmental monitoring and guarantee funds;
  • The role of public participation and documenting the social acceptability of a proposal; and
  • Penalties and sanctions for violating requirements of the EIS System.

The LGU has a critical role in ensuring that all development projects in their jurisdiction that are classified as ECPs or located in ECAs are subjected to the EIA review process. While not all projects may require a detailed EIA, all proposed development activities should be screened to decide which projects need a detailed evaluation of environmental impacts. Many coastal zone habitats are considered ECAs, so an environmental review of projects in the coastal zone may be warranted under PD 1586. The LGU should also facilitate community participation through public outreach. It is in the best interests of all stakeholders to design and choose the best development and mitigation options or to encourage DENR to deny an ECC if a project does not meet environmental standards.

Review process for environmentally critical projects
Proponents of projects classified as ECPs are required to conduct an EIA study and to submit an EIS report to DENR’s EMB. The following are basic steps in the EIA process for these types of projects.

Steps and timetable for review of ECPs

EIA scoping: Ensuring stakeholder participation. Scoping should begin as soon as the project is conceptualized and is focused on identifying issues and alternatives. Scoping is crucial because it allows stakeholders – those affected by the project – to identify issues that need to be addressed in the EIA. If the proposed project requires an EIA, then a preliminary evaluation is accomplished and meetings are held among DENR, LGU, local communities, and possibly NGOs and academic institutions to decide on the scope of the EIA. Scoping helps all parties understand the level of analysis required, specify the alternatives to be evaluated, identify potential impacts, and suggest possible mitigation and monitoring measures that should be addressed. Scoping is also used to determine if an environmental risk assessment (ERA) is needed and what factors may affect social acceptability of the project. Scoping sessions and consultations are used to solicit public input. Scoping meetings are documented by the proponent and signed by all representatives of stakeholders and integrated into a scoping report that documents the consultative process.

Affected local governments and communities need to provide their input during scoping to ensure that their concerns are going to be addressed in the EIA before it is completed. The LGUs should consolidate all local input and provide it in writing directly to the proponent with copies provided to the lead national development agency and DENR-EMB. DENR and the LGUs have the responsibility to ensure that all potential environmental impacts will be addressed in the EIA and to identify issues that may affect social acceptability.

Assessing environmental and socioeconomic impacts. The EIA is done or contracted out by the project proponent and is needed as the first step in the preparation of an EIS. The EIA should include evaluation of the proposed project’s environmental and socioeconomic impacts and should identify alternatives (including the no-action alternative) and mitigation measures to reduce project impacts. The EIA should address impacts at all stages of project development from construction and operation through closure, and provide alternatives to manage and minimize impacts. The proponent submits the completed EIS to EMB which then evaluates it to determine the specific EIA System requirements for the proposal. Affected LGUs should request and obtain a copy of the submitted EIS Report, and in turn make it available to local communities and NGOs for comment.

Reporting and planning. The proponent or consultants certified by DENR accomplish the required studies and prepare the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).

The EIS should contain an assessment of the most likely impacts of the project and should provide an environmental management plan (EMP) that lays out the measures to prevent or minimize impacts from the project. In addition, DENR may require the EIS to include an ERA especially if the proposal involves hazardous, toxic, flammable, or explosive materials or chemicals, or involves the construction of structures such as dams, bridges, which would endanger life, property, or the environment should they fail. An Environmental Risk Assessment Report, Risk Management Plan, and Emergency Response and Contingency Plan would accompany the EIS.

Local governments and communities should be provided the EIS for review in a timely manner, well before the EIS is finalized and forwarded to DENR for action. Comments should be compiled by the LGU and sent both to the proponent and DENR. The LGU and other reviewers should ensure that the required sections of the EIS are present (Table 3). The LGU should also note whether accredited individuals have prepared the report as directed under the EIS System (Table 4).

Table 3. Required sections or outline of the EIS document (DENR AO 2000-05).

EIS Summary, a five-page summary of the EIS highlighting the results of the EIA, the EMP, and proponents' conclusions on the environmental acceptability of the proposed project;

Project Description provides the project rationale, including data on project location, process technologies, material and waste streams, timing and phasing of implementation, and costs including alternative sites or action/no-action alternatives;

Summary of Scoping Agreements in the form of matrix of issues and concerns to be addressed in the EIS including validation letter from EMB;

Baseline Environmental Conditions for land, water, air, and people focusing on the sectors (resources) most significantly affeced by the proposed action;

Impact Assessment and Analysis focuses on discussion of critical/significant impacts on the environment (from routine activities including cumulative impacts);

Environmental Risk Assessment focuses on accident scenarios i.e., failure of pollution control devices or structures such as dams, accidental explosion, ignition and toxic dispersion, when appropriate;

Environmental Management Program/Plan that detail the prevention, mitigation, emergency response, compensation, contingency, monitoring, and institutional measures to be taken during project implementation and operation to avoid/minimize and control adverse environmental impacts and the actions and resources needed to implement these measures;

Supporting Documents such as: technical/socioeconomic data used/generated;

Proposals for Environmental Monitoring and Guarantee Funds including justification of amount, when required; and

Accountability Statement of preparers and proponents.

Table 4. Who can prepare an EIS or IEE?

  • Only accredited individuals, offices, or organizations are allowed to do EIAs and prepare EIS or IEE documents. This is to ensure that only competent, credible, and qualified individuals are involved in the studies required to prepare these documents.
  • DENR’s EMB and Regional Offices are empowered to accredit individuals or organizations to be EIS or IEE preparers.
  • DENR personnel are prohibited from participating in the preparation of EIS or IEE, except in their mandated role to provide guidance to the proponents.
  • The IEE/EIS may be prepared by the proponents' technical staff or a professional group commissioned by the proponent, provided that only appropriate and duly recognized professionals with valid Philippine licenses can sign the required accountability statements. The DENR may opt to accredit entities and institutions conducting training on EIA preparation and those who successfully complete such courses can be recognized preparers.

Review. The EIS is submitted to DENR’s EMB, which then forwards it to the EIA Review Committee (EIARC) for evaluation. The EMB will not accept an EIS document for review if it is incomplete or not adequately organized. The EIARC is composed of technically trained professionals in the natural, physical, and social sciences. It meets within 10 working days of submission of the EIS and completes its report and recommendations for an ECC within an additional 5 days.

The EIARC can hold meetings with the proponent, conduct site visits, technical tests, and consultations with the stakeholders to ensure a thorough and substantive review of the EIS. It makes a report and recommendation to the EMB Director on whether the project should be issued an ECC, and subsequently to the DENR Secretary for approval/denial of the ECC application.

Questions that should be asked by the LGU or community representatives in the course of reviewing the EIS are included in Table 5. If there are any local objections to the quality or content of the EIS, the LGU should communicate them to DENR’s EIARC.

Table 5. Questions to ask when reviewing an EIS report (adapted from Carpenter and Maragos 1989).

  • Is the spatial and temporal scope of the EIA adequate?
  • What alternatives are considered: No project? Other sites? Other technologies?
  • Are all potential adverse environmental effects clearly identified and addressed?
  • Are there impacts on environmentally critical areas or protected species?
  • What mitigation measures are proposed and who is responsible for implementing them?
  • What parameters need to be monitored?
  • Has public participation through a consultative process been employed?

The environmental compliance certificate. The ECC certifies that the project proponent has complied with the procedures of the EIS System. For ECPs, the EIS together with the Committee’s report is sent to the Director of the EMB, who in turn forwards documents and recommendations to the Secretary of DENR within 15 days. If the EIS and supporting documentation are complete, the Secretary makes a decision on the EIS. If documentation is incomplete, the Secretary may need more time to make a decision on the EIS and ECC or request additional input from the proponent.

Local governments and communities should continue coordinating with EMB regarding the ECC decision on a proposed project and communicate any local concerns or objections. The LGU may also want to recommend revision and follow-up coordination on the EIS to the DENR Secretary before final decisions are made on the project and its ECC.

Monitoring. After a project’s ECC has been granted, the EMP is implemented, in particular, the initiation of environmental monitoring. The primary purpose of monitoring under PD 1586 is to ensure compliance with the conditions set in the ECC and the EMP. The EMP guides the implementation of the project to ensure environmental soundness in all project phases. Monitoring is usually initiated before construction starts and continues through project construction and project operation. It helps document the actual impacts of the project and provides the opportunity for determining compliance and identifies needed corrective measures.

A multi-partite monitoring team (MMT) should be formed immediately after the issuance of the ECC to work out the operational details and develop a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that spells out the roles and responsibilities of the monitoring team and the funding required for the monitoring activities. An environmental monitoring fund (EMF) to provide funds for the monitoring team is established by the proponent before the construction phase. Normally, the core members of the team include representatives of the proponent, affected communities and women, LGU, EMB Regional Office with support from the concerned PENRO/CENRO and other sectors identified in the negotiations. The monitoring team evaluates compliance with the ECC and EMP, gathers information if damage occurs or public complaints are raised, prepares and disseminates monitoring reports, and conducts community education and information campaigns (EMB-DENR 1995).

Review Process for projects in environmentally critical areas
Environmental review procedures are somewhat different for proposed projects that may be located in ECAs. The review of the proposed development is conducted through DENR’s Regional Offices and consists of the following steps.

Steps and timetable for review of projects in ECAs

Initial environmental examination. The project proponent submits an initial environmental examination (IEE) to DENR’s EMB Regional Office. The IEE contains a brief project description, expected impacts, and measures to be undertaken to control, manage, or minimize impacts on the environment.

DENR-EMB processes and reviews the IEE within 30 days. DENR-EMB reviews the IEE to see if it has provided sufficient and accurate information on the project and its impact, and to ensure that the EMP will sufficiently address adverse impacts. The review team can include technical experts from DENR, other agencies, academe, and EIA practitioners. The DENR-EMB Regional Office may conduct site investigations or public consultations during the course of the review; these efforts should be coordinated through the DENR Provincial or Community Environment and Natural Resource Officers of the provinces or municipalities where the project is located. The Sector’s recommendations would then be forwarded to the Director of the DENR-EMB Regional Office for approval.

Local governments and communities would follow the same strategies to ensure involvement in the review process for proposals in ECAs as described above for ECPs. The affected LGUs can also submit coordinated comments on a proponent’s IEE and provide recommendations on the IEE, the ECC, or the project as a whole to the DENR-EMB Regional Office and the Regional DENR Director.

Decision on requirement for EIS. The DENR Regional Executive Director (RED) determines whether the Project IEE may further require an EIS, is acceptable as described, or is unacceptable. For proposals with potentially severe adverse impacts, the project itself or its ECC may be denied by the DENR Regional Executive Director, which would then force the proponent to modify the project. An EIS is required for projects expected to cause significant impacts, involving large areas, altering the landscape, or relocating communities. The EIS for a project in an ECA is subject to a similar review as an EIS prepared for an ECP, but at the regional level.

The RED determines whether an ECC will be granted or denied. For ECCs issued pursuant to an IEE, the CENRO or PENRO is tasked with monitoring compliance with the ECC and EMP.

Who’s accountable?
Adequate and appropriate information in the EIS or IEE is crucial for the development of good projects and measures to minimize or avoid significant impacts. The proponent and the EIS/IEE preparers are jointly responsible for the accuracy and completeness of these documents. They sign “accountability statements” that are attached to the EIS or IEE, which requires them to provide all the necessary information for a complete and valid EIS or IEE. They also promise to bring any new information that comes to light to the attention of DENR. The proponent and preparers can be charged administratively or criminally if they are found to have provided misleading or false information or neglected to include important information in the EIS or IEE (EMB-DENR 1994).

Environmental Guarantee Fund
An environmental guarantee fund (EGF) should be set up for projects posing significant risks to people, property, and the environment, based upon the findings of the earlier completed ERA. Normally, a memorandum of agreement on the EGF would be signed by the proponent, DENR, LGUs (down to the barangay (village) level), and affected communities. The memorandum would specify the means to establish, manage, use, and account for the EGF. The specific purposes of the fund would include rehabilitation of damaged environments, compensation to injured parties and communities, raising public awareness, and contingency cleanups required due to project-related impacts.

Social acceptability and public participation
Social acceptability is the resolution of all valid concerns regarding the project and is accomplished through public consultation, public hearings, alternative dispute and conflict resolution procedures, and posting or publishing public notices in advance of scheduled meetings. These strategies provide opportunities for all sectors to learn about proposals and offer input to influence the outcome of project decisions. In addition, appropriate attention should be given to the concerns of indigenous people and women who will be affected by the project. LGUs can play key roles in achieving compliance with this policy by helping DENR disseminate project information, helping to bring together stakeholders, and encouraging participation in the MMT.

The EIS System has provisions for public involvement and consultation. Public participation is strengthened through:

  • Public consultation: Free and open exchange of information and discussion by the proponent and stakeholders.
  • Public hearings: Hearings facilitated by a hearing officer designated by DENR are held especially if the project impacts a lot of people or if there is public concern about the project.
  • Alternative dispute or conflict resolution: Mediation, negotiation, or other methods may be used to reach consensus if there are complex issues or unresolved issues between the proponent and the stakeholders that stall the EIS process or hinder the determination of social acceptability.
  • Public information: Public notice of scoping meetings, submission of documents for review, and DENR’s decisions on ECCs are essential to inform the public and should be paid for by the proponent.

The community should be involved at all stages, but especially during scoping, review, and monitoring to ensure community support for the decisions that will be made. Ideas on how to involve communities in the EIA process are provided in Table 6 and additional information can be found in Guidebook 4: Involving Communities in Coastal Management.

Table 6. How to involve communities in the EIA process.

  • Provide public notice of proposed development and opportunities for public input;
  • Announce public meetings in newspapers and on the radio;
  • Conduct public meetings in the affected community;
  • Make the EIA or EIS reports available to community representatives; and
  • Notify and request comments from affected people’s organizations, NGOs, community groups.

If the project is socially acceptable, agreements should be made on what economic benefits should go to the community. Other agreements on environmental protection and compensation in case of damages should be reached. Agreement among parties is forged through a memorandum of agreement (MOA), which is included in the EIS or IEE.

LGU involvement

Local governments and communities should consult frequently with DENR to learn of new projects that need to be scoped, the review schedule, decisions on the need for an EIS, and whether an ECC will be granted. If there are any objections at the local level, the LGU can write to the DENR for the rationale of the decision. Additional correspondence or public involvement may be needed to resolve differences, if any.

At the local level, the following steps should be followed by the LGU to assess impacts of proposed projects:

  • Screening - Verify that all ECPs or projects in ECAs, including those in the coastal zone that impact reefs and fisheries, are subject to the EIS requirements. Be aware of DENR’s screening process and focus review and participation efforts on proposals with the potential for major adverse impacts. Visit project sites before the scoping sessions to identify potential impacts.
  • Scoping - Ensure LGU and community participation in the scoping process. Focus on the major impacts, and outline the feasible alternatives, analyses, mitigation, and monitoring that needs to be covered for each proposal. Hold public meetings to begin the consultative process.
  • Analysis and EIA report - Make sure the proponent (and consultants) comply with the agreed upon scope and the requirements of the EIS System. Review and offer comments on the EIA, preferences on the project alternatives, environmental mitigation, and environmental monitoring. Request for a public meeting if there are outstanding or controversial issues.
  • EIS and project decisions - Check for adequacy and accuracy of the EIS or IEE and understand the rationale for the decision on an ECC. Request for additional meetings if things are still unclear or unacceptable.
  • Environmental compliance certificate and environmental management plan After decision-making, make sure that the ECC and EMP comply with the requirements of the EIS System.
  • Environmental monitoring and compliance - Check on monitoring to insure that it is correctly implemented and to insure that the project construction complies with environmental standards and regulations.

The LGU should strive to request, read, and understand all environmental documents to evaluate the impacts of proposed projects on the local environment. It should request explanations or assistance from DENR and ensure that local communities and governments participate at every step, from the beginning. The IEE, EIS, and ECC are public documents available upon request to DENR and should be readily available to the LGU and the community.

What if there is local opposition to development projects? A consultative process is required in the issuance of an EIS since the documentation of an MOA on social acceptability is a critical step. Local communities and governments should be involved in the project review process and communicate their objections through established channels to higher authorities at every possible step of the way, as suggested above. The stakeholders may appeal a decision made by the DENR RED in granting or denying an ECC. LGUs may compel DENR to require more extensive environmental monitoring or to conduct an environmental audit of the completed project to identify residual impacts that warrant remedy or correction. The LGU should be aware of fines and penalties for lack of compliance with the EIS System and ensure that enforcement is occurring and appropriate penalties are applied (Table 7).

Table 7. Fines and penalties under PD 1586.

Projects that are established or operating without an ECC: Any project or activity that has been classified as an ECP or in an ECA and is established or operating without a valid ECC can be ordered closed through a cease-and-desist order (CDO), and subject to a fine of PhP50,000 for every violation.

Projects violating conditions of ECC, EMP, or rules and regulations: Projects violating any conditions of the ECC or EMP or rules of the EIS System shall be punished by suspension or cancellation of the ECC and suspension of operations and/or a fine not to exceed PhP50,000 for every violation.

Misrepresentation in the IEE or EIS or other documents: Misrepresentations in any documents submitted in the EIA process shall be punished by suspension or cancellation of the ECC and/or a fine not to exceed PhP50,000 for every misrepresentation.


Carpenter, R.A. and J.E. Maragos, Editors. 1989. How to assess environmental impacts on tropical islands and coastal areas. East-West Center, Environment and Policy Institute, South Pacific Regional Environment Programme, and the Asian Development Bank, Honolulu. 345 p.

EMB-DENR (Environmental Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources). 1994. Philippine EIS guide: Policies and procedures. Manila.

EMB-DENR (Environmental Management Bureau, Department of Environment and Natural Resources). 1995. Administrative and technical procedures guidebook for programmatic EIS compliance. Manila.


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