Ex-AFP chief Cimatu replaces Lopez as Environment secretary

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2017 03:24 PM | Updated as of May 08 2017 08:29 PM

Newly-appointed Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu poses for a photo before he was sworn into office by President Rodrigo Roa Duterte prior to the start of the 15th Cabinet Meeting at the State Dining Room of Malacañan Palace on May 7, 2017. Robinson Ninal, Malacanang Photo

MANILA (UPDATED)-- Former Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff and retired general Roy Cimatu has been appointed acting environment secretary, replacing Gina Lopez.

Cimatu who was the former special envoy for OFW and refugees, served as chief of staff of the military in 2002.

President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday signed Cimatu's appointment.

President Rodrigo Duterte signs Roy Cimatu's appointment papers as DENR Secretary. Photo courtesy of Malacañang Palace

"We are confident that Secretary Cimatu shall faithfully serve the interest of the country and the Filipino people in his capacity as the new DENR Secretary," Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella, however, clarified that Cimatu's appointment is still subject to Congress' aproval.

"He is still 'acting' because Congress is still in session; and to facilitate his being able to act immediately. He is still subject to confirmation," Abella said.

Lawmakers last Wednesday rejected the appointment of Lopez, who cracked down on alleged unsafe mining practices during her 10 months in office.

In a Facebook post, Agriculture Secretary Manny Pinol said President Rodrigo Duterte introduced Cimatu as new Environment chief. 

"'Let us put an end to all speculations," Pres. Rody Duterte said as he announced the appointment of former Army General and Ambassdor Roy Cimatu as the new Environment Secretary," Pinol said in his post. 

Lopez previously said only Duterte can replace her as DENR chief because the post needed bravery.

“My choice for DENR secretary is President Duterte… I can’t think of any other person. It needs guts. It needs tapang (bravery) because you have to step on business interest,” Lopez told reporters.

During his visit to the Middle East, Duterte told the Filipino community in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia that he was talking to Cimatu about a Cabinet post.