Cimatu gets unanimous CA approval

The bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday voted unanimously --24-0-- to approve the nomination of Roy A. Cimatu as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief and special envoy for overseas Filipino workers and refugees, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte in May to replace first nominee Gina Lopez, who had failed to obtain the nod of the powerful congressional body.

The newly-confirmed DENR chief has been described by President Duterte as “honest and hardworking.”

“He’s a silent guy, a very low-key personality, but he does his work very well,” the President had said as he justified his choice of Cimatu as Lopez’s replacement.

Cimatu said he was “pleased, honored and humbled” by the CA’s decision to confirm his appointment.

He said he was excited for the challenges ahead as he fulfills his duties and responsibilities as the 21st Secretary of the DENR since the agency was reorganized in 1987.

“The challenge for me now is to prove that President Rodrigo Duterte and the honorable members of the CA have made the right decision in placing their trust and confidence in my abilities to lead the DENR towards fulfilling the broad mandate entrusted to it,” Cimatu said.

According to Cimatu, the confirmation of his ad interim appointment would allow him to “continue to institute reforms, and pursue programs and projects that would truly protect the environment and improve people’s lives.”

“This gives me enough inspiration to carry out the seemingly gargantuan tasks of protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable use of the country’s rich natural resources in the face of climate change and dwindling natural wealth of the nation,” he pointed out.

He added: “Rest assured that under my watch, the DENR will push for people-centered agenda in pursuit of environmental protection and sustainable development. It is high time that every Filipino, regardless of status in life, should have equal access to the benefits of clean environment and sustainable natural resources.”

When he assumed office in May, Cimatu vowed to prioritize environmental protection through full implementation of existing laws on clean air, clean water and solid waste management.

He also promised to ensure strict adherence of mining laws by mining contractors and to fight illegal logging.

In July, Cimatu moved to fast-track the issuance of environmental compliance certificates (ECCs) by giving the authority to issue such permits back to the director and regional directors of the DENR’s Environmental Management Bureau.

The move was in compliance with President Duterte’s marching orders to his Cabinet to cut red tape in the bureaucracy and make the entire government more responsive to the needs of the people. It also serves as the DENR’s way of promoting the ease of doing business in the country.

Cimatu also started going around the country to promote better water quality standards in major waterways. He had ordered the cleanup and rehabilitation of critical water bodies, including the coastlines of the world-famous Boracay Island and the Manila Bay.

He was on his third month in office when the DENR ordered the permanent closure of the Payatas sanitary landfill in Quezon City due to serious environmental violations and susceptibility to trash slide.

Less than one month at the DENR, Cimatu went to Brooke’s Point town in Palawan province to personally serve the show cause order to mining firm Ipilan Nickel Corp. over the massive indiscriminate tree-cutting within the area covered by its mining permit.

He inspected the INC mining area and held dialogue with local residents, who raised a howl against the firm’s activities in the area.

A few months later in August, the DENR slapped the INC with a cease and desist order for operating without a valid ECC. ###