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Government policies in the Philippines and decisions of the Supreme Court tilt heavily toward the protection of an individual’s right to privacy of communications. However, the Philippines also recognizes that the free flow of information is vital to promote innovation and growth. Thus, the recent trend in cases of conflict is to balance the interests of the business sector and that of an individual’s right to privacy.
The Philippines also enacted a Data Privacy Act (DPA) which became effective on September 8, 2012. The DPA modeled after the European Union General Data Protection Regulation and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Privacy Framework. The National Privacy Commission (NPC) enforces the DPA and has issued the law’s Implementing Rules and Regulations which took effect on 9 September 2016.
Development projects that are classified by law as environmentally-critical or projects within statutorily defined environmentally critical areas are required to obtain an Environmental Compliance Certificate or ECC prior to commencement of operation. The DENR through its regional offices or through the EMB, determines whether a project is environmentally critical or located in an environmentally critical area. As a requisite for the issuance of an ECC, an environmentally critical project is required to submit an EIS to the EMB, while a project in an environmentally critical area is generally required to submit an Initial Environmental Examination (IEE) to the proper DENR regional office. The construction and operation of a power plant and other related auxiliary facilities are generally considered as environmentally critical projects for which an EIS and ECC are mandatory.
The EIS refers to both the document and the study of a project’s environmental impact, including a discussion of the direct and indirect consequences to human welfare and ecological as well as environmental integrity. The IEE refers to the document and the study describing the environmental impact, including mitigation and enhancement measures, for projects in environmentally critical areas.
In addition to obtaining an ECC, projects that are determined by the DENR to pose a significant public risk to the environment are required to establish an Environmental Guarantee Fund. The Environmental Guarantee Fund is intended to compensate for any damage to the environment as a result of the project. Proponents who complete an EIS must also include a commitment to establish an Environmental Monitoring Fund when an ECC is eventually issued. The Environmental Monitoring Fund shall be utilized to support the activities of a multi-sectoral team that shall monitor compliance with the ECC and other applicable regulations.
While the terms and conditions of an EIS or an IEE may vary from project to project, as a minimum, the same must contain all relevant information regarding the project’s environmental effects. The entire process of organization, administration and assessment of the effects of any project on the quality of the physical, biological and socio-economic environment as well as the design of appropriate preventive, mitigating and enhancement measures is known as the EIS System. Approval by the EMB of a project proponent’s EIS System successfully culminates in the issuance of an ECC by the EMB.
Essentially, the issuance of an ECC is a government certification that: (a) the proposed project or undertaking will not cause a significant negative environmental impact; (b) the proponent has complied with all the requirements of the EIS System; and (c) the proponent is committed to implement its approved Environmental Management Plan in the EIS or, if an IEE was required, that it shall comply with the mitigation measures provided therein. Thus, despite the issuance of an ECC, a grantee thereof must continually comply and adhere to its approved Environmental Management Plan.
Any person, corporation or partnership found violating the terms and conditions in the issuance of the ECC may be liable for the suspension or cancellation of such ECC and/or a fine. Generally, the suspension or cancellation will apply only to the relevant ECC subject of the violation and will not extend to any other ECCs or to the projects covered thereby that may have been granted to an entity.
AREAS OF REGULATION
Presidential Decree No. 984 (PD 984), otherwise known as the National Pollution Control Decree of 1976, is the general legislation on pollution prevention and control.
Republic Act No. 9003 (RA 9003), or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000, calls for the institutionalization of a national program that will manage the control, transfer, transport, processing and disposal of solid waste in the country.
Republic Act No. 6969 (RA 6969), or the Toxic Substances and Hazardous and Nuclear Wastes Control Act, provides the legal framework for the country’s program to control and manage the importation, manufacture, processing, distribution, use, transport, treatment and disposal of toxic substances as well as that of hazardous and nuclear wastes.
Republic Act No. 9275, otherwise known as the “Philippine Clean Water Act of 2004” (Clean Water Act) governs water quality management in all water bodies in order to abate and control pollution from land based sources. Under the Clean Water Act, owners or operators of facilities that discharge regulated effluents or wastewater flowing out of manufacturing plants and industrial plants including domestic, commercial and recreational facilities, must secure a discharge permit from the EMB. The operation of facilities that discharge regulated water pollutants without a valid discharge permit is a prohibited activity under the Clean Water Act, and may be punishable by a fine, closure of facility, and/or imprisonment.
Republic Act No. 8749 (RA 8749), or the Philippine Clean Air Act of 1999, provides the framework for preventing, managing, controlling and reversing air pollution nationwide.