Kuya Bong pushes eco-projects insurance

An advocate for environmental protection, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go files Senate Bill 1189 which seeks to establish a national framework for the mandatory insurance coverage of environmentally critical projects.

The lawmaker stressed that it is the duty of the government to ensure the quality of life of its people through the protection of the environment that they live in.

“Environmental protection must be prioritized in order to also protect our future,” Go said, adding that the the country’s geographical location is prone to natural disasters.

He also stressed that despite existing measures to protect the environment, there have been various instances of man-made environmental damages in the country — such as the Marcopper mining disaster in Marinduque and the illegal logging activities in Cagayan Valley that led to a massive flooding in the region during Typhoon Ulysses.

Under the proposed measure, a national framework for Mandatory Environmental Insurance Coverage shall be created, which all owners and operators of ECPs are required to secure.

The measure will also guarantee sufficient funding coverage for the needed restoration and compensation for the adverse environmental consequences which include damage to health and property, and costs for environmental rehabilitation, remediation, cleanup, and other environmental impairments arising from their operations.

ECPs shall include heavy industries, major manufacturing industries, major resource-extractive industries, major infrastructure projects, and other similar projects that could pose serious risks to people and the environment.

Once passed into law, the Secretary of the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources shall establish and head an Inter-Agency Technical Committee, with the Commissioner of the Insurance Commission and representatives of the insurance industry, the mining industry, and other stakeholders that the DENR may deem fit, as members.

The IATC will identify the perils or possible negative environmental impacts, activities, processes or undertakings; conduct risk assessment to determine the appropriate insurance coverage for different ECPs and activities; and formulate guidelines for the identification of primary impact areas and prescription of rehabilitation or remediation environmental damages; among others.

Owners and operators of ECPs shall not be allowed to commence construction or commercial operation without initially obtaining the MEIC required under the proposed measure. In case of failure to do so, owners and operators of an ECP shall be subjected to penalty fees.

Meanwhile, government officials, employees and agents who approve the construction or operation of ECPs without the necessary MEIC will likewise face penalty charges.

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