New DENR chief Cimatu ‘neophyte’ on environment issues—CBCP exec
A Catholic Church official has criticized the appointment of former military chief Roy Cimatu as new secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), calling him a “neophyte” on environmental issues.
“Cimatu is a neophyte to environmental issues [compared with] Gina Lopez,” said Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP)-National Secretariat for Social Action, over church-run Radyo Veritas.
President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday appointed Cimatu as new DENR chief, replacing Lopez who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments last week. Lopez’s 10-month stint in the department was marked by her strong anti-mining stance, particularly her order to close down mining firms and cancel mining contracts.
Gariguez called Cimatu’s appointment as a “compromised choice to appease the mining industry.”
“He might have management capacity given his military career but he has no track record in terms of his stand on social justice, environmental protection, IP (indigenous peoples) rights, and pro-poor development,” he said.
“We don’t need a DENR secretary who is a compromised choice to appease the mining industry,” Gariguez added.
Cimatu, a member of the Philippine Military Academy Class of 1970, served as Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff from May to September 2002 under the Arroyo administration. He was appointed by Duterte as special presidential envoy to the Middle East in October last year.
Greenpeace Southeast Asia Philippines, which called for Lopez’ reinstatement, said the problem with Cimatu’s appointment was “he wouldn’t see the importance of a healthy ecosystem to maintain the economy,” noting that the former AFP chief “has no track record or background in environmentalism.” IDL/rga
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