date.timezone = "Etc/UTC"
<?php print(date_default_timezone_get()); ?>
That line is certainly the correct place to change the default timezone.
Are you actually changing the right php.ini? Some setups can have multiple .ini files. Run
phpinfo(); and check Loaded Configuration File to see if it's that file.
Check if there are no other definitions of that parameter in the file. It might override what you've set if you just copy-pasted it in wherever.
Check if the code does not override what you have set in the .ini file.
date_default_timezone_set() sets it (and overrides) in PHP.
phpinfo() for more info on what the current timezone is.