News & Updates

Department Of Interior and Local Government Issues Memorandum Circular 2022-18, Reiterating The Roles And Responsibilities Of LGUs Relative To Projects Covered By The Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System

The Department of Interior and Local Government issued on 17 February 2022 Memorandum Circular No. 2022-018 which covers all local government units (LGUs) with existing or proposed projects under the Philippine Environmental Impact Statement System (PEISS).  The Memorandum Circular recapitulates the roles and responsibilities of the LGUs relative to the projects covered by the PEISS enumerated under relevant national laws and issuances of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and other pertinent government agencies. It aims to emphasize the duty of the State to implement environmental safeguards and guarantee that development activities shall not compromise the right of the people to an ecologically balanced environment.

Pursuant to the Memorandum Circular, the LGUs must ensure that projects in Environmentally Critical Areas (ECA) and proposed and existing projects identified as Environmentally Critical Projects (ECP) are consistent with their development and sector plans. The city/municipality may not approve any project that is inconsistent with their development and sector plans. However, in case the project is deemed acceptable by the city/municipality and its constituents, but such project is excluded from their development plan and/or sector plans, the city/municipality shall update these plans, as well as pertinent ordinances and other local policies. This update must conform to the guidelines on land use planning and zoning standards. Furthermore, if the Sangguniang Panlungsod or Bayan issues a resolution for variance, it must comply and be consistent with the regional/provincial framework plan, the Comprehensive Land Use Plan (CLUP), and the Comprehensive Development Plan (CDP).

Project proponents of projects identified as ECP and projects located in an ECA are required to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The national government reviews the EIA, and after a positive review, issues an Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) to the project proponent. During this process, the DENR works in close coordination with relevant national agencies. The city/municipal local government shall participate in the conduct of the EIA by ensuring that project proponents comply with the guidelines for coverage screening and standardized requirements, as provided by EMB Memorandum Circular No. 2014-005. The cities/municipalities must guide the project proponent in the identification and profiling of stakeholders and the conduct of information, education, and communication which shall inform and develop the public’s awareness and understanding of the project and the EIA process. They must also mobilize stakeholders to participate in the Public Scoping consultation about the project proposal and ensure that the concerns and agreements made are properly documented and incorporated in the EIA report.

The Memorandum Circular consolidates the participation of the cities/municipalities in the EIA Study and Report Preparation and EIA Report Review and Evaluation stated under various government issuances. The responsibilities of the LGUs in these processes include providing inputs on the actual environmental conditions in the project and its compatibility with the locality’s development plan, promotion of public participation aimed at ensuring the social acceptability of a project, coordination with project proponent on informing and consulting identified stakeholders, assurance of the proper conduct of public consultations or public hearings when applicable, and review of the draft ECC.

Under the Memorandum Circular, LGUs must assist the DENR in ensuring that the project proponent complies with the conditions anchored with the approval of the project. The LGUs must also report and initiate appropriate actions against project proponents if based on their monitoring, there are possible environmental violations including breach of the terms and conditions stipulated in the Area Clearance and ECC. No Letter of Objection shall be issued by an LGU without the conduct of the EIA. Further, the city/municipal governments must also ensure the participation and membership in the Multi-Partite Monitoring Team (MMT) of certain representatives enumerated under the Memorandum Circular.

After the approval of the project and the issuance of the ECC, the city/municipality shall disclose the pertinent EIA documents to the public through posting of the same in conspicuous places and in social media accounts or websites of the LGU concerned. These LGUs must also integrate into their decision-making process the EIA recommendations transmitted by the DENR-Environmental Management Bureau relative to the proposed project. They are further tasked to ensure the participation of their designated representatives in certain functions of the MMT and to issue a certification under oath that all requirements, including those in existing national environmental and local laws, as well as the Local Government Code, have been complied with by the project proponent.

Willful violation of the Memorandum Circular will be subject to administrative, civil, or criminal liability under existing laws.