MANILA – Malacanang on Tuesday said President Rodrigo Duterte appointed former military chief Roy Cimatu because he felt the latter can balance the concerns of environmentalists and mining groups.
Cimatu replaced Gina Lopez, whose appointment was rejected last week by the powerful Commission on Appointments. The erstwhile environment secretary earned the ire of mining groups because of her policies.
“During the Cabinet meeting, he did make this comment, he said that he felt that General Cimatu was extraordinarily gifted for the task of balancing environmental concerns with mining operations concerns,” Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press briefing.
“I supposed what the President was saying is basically what he’s looking for really is balanced.”
Cimatu’s appointment was not welcomed by leftist groups, who have expressed preference for Lopez and are usually averse towards military figures.
However, Lopez, who said Duterte should take charge at the DENR, said all stakeholders must give Cimatu a chance.
Miners, meanwhile, said they are 'cautiously optimistic' with the appointment of Cimatu as DENR chief.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines said in a statement that it hoped that Cimatu's appointment "finally answers our long-held call for a DENR secretary who has a balanced appreciation for environmental protection and natural resources management."