MANILA - Newly appointed Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Thursday vowed to put priority in protecting water resources including a cleanup of Laguna de Bay.
"Ang aking tututukan talaga, very visible sana, is the cleaning of the Laguna Lake, including iyung river and esteros d'yan. Hindi lang one time, kailangan talagang ma-sustain natin," Cimatu said in a phone interview with radio DZMM.
He added that he will focus on the implementation of the Clean Air Act, solid waste management, and anti-illegal logging regulations.
The 70-year-old Cimatu last week replaced DENR chief Gina Lopez who ordered the closure of 22 of 41 mines in the world's top nickel ore supplier and banned open-pit mining.
Lopez, whose mining crackdown was backed by the president, was removed by a panel of lawmakers that review Duterte's appointments.
No mine has yet been closed as companies pursue an appeals process that can only be settled by Duterte.
A former military chief, Cimatu admitted that he is still familiarizing himself with the mining industry through consultations with various stakeholders.
He earlier said that it is possible to balance mining and natural resources protection in the Philippines, which is the world's top nickel ore supplier.
Cimatu appealed for the public's support as he adjusts to his new post.
"I am learning the ropes and twists of the industry, especially sa mga environmental protection. Give me a chance to prove my worth. I will do my best," he said.