“The speedy confirmation of ex-general Roy Cimatu as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) means that big business plunderers and polluters have found their right man for the agency,” said KALIKASAN People’s Network for the Environment (KALIKASAN PNE) in a statement on October 4, following the confirmation of Cimatu.

When Cimatu was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May after the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejection of Gina Lopez, the group expressed dismay by the choice, saying that Cimatu has a track record of defending environmental plunderers and corruption.

They referred to the former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff’s order to create “Task Force Lumad” to guard the Alsons logging tenement and train Citizen Armed Forces Geographical Unit (CAFGU) paramilitaries also to protect the logging area that is being protested by the Ata-Manobo tribes in the area.

On the issue of corruption, they referred to the 2011 AFP ‘pabaon’ corruption scandal where retiring chiefs of staff were given hefty ‘send-off money’.

 “The mining industry lobbyists who decried the supposed lack of technical proficiency of the previous DENR leadership under Gina Lopez did not raise a hoot about Cimatu’s complete lack of credentials in environmental science. Being a hypocrite is apparently not a problem when your lobby money is already making a hefty return on investment,” the group lambasted the powerful CA.

KALIKASAN PNE criticized that no one in the CA grilled Cimatu on his track record of corruption and human rights violations.

The group said before that Cimatu has no track record on addressing environmental issues and instead has a record of defending environmental plunderers and engaging in corruption. They urged Duterte then to reconsider the decision to appoint him as DENR secretary.

“Cimatu reversed the commitment of Gina Lopez that DENR will not approve new reclamation projects. He is also delaying and more likely will junk the previous mining order of Gina Lopez of closing and suspending erring big mining corporations,” said Clemente Bautista, KALIKASAN PNE National Coordinator, in an interview.

The group heeded that in the short time Cimatu has been in office, the ban on open pit mining is up for review thus its implementation is suspended. Duterte has always been vocal against open pit mining and supported to ban it, while Cimatu vowed to uphold this position of the president. 

They now also dispraised the president as merely spewing out rhetoric when he speaks against destructive mining.

“It means the Duterte regime’s official policy on mining is to eat all its rhetoric on cracking down on irresponsible large-scale miners. It is a go-signal for Cimatu to continue his review process to reverse the closure, suspension, and agreement cancellation orders against mining projects found to have violated various environmental and socio-economic standards,” said KALIKASAN PNE.

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