New DENR chief Cimatu asks for time to ‘study terrain’

Jee Y. Geronimo
New DENR chief Cimatu asks for time to ‘study terrain’
Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu, a retired general, acknowledges the challenges facing him at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources

MANILA, Philippines – Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu on Wednesday, May 10, asked his department to give him time to adjust to his new role even as he vowed to protect the environment “in all its forms.”

“Here I am wading into a field far removed from soldiery. That is why you will please excuse me if I ask that I be given time to scan and study the terrain in an agency which impacts considerably on our very life as a people and the future of our beloved Philippines,” Cimatu said during Wednesday’s turnover ceremony.

He said his entry to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) is challenging, especially after the “heated” confirmation debates on the appointment of his predecessor, Gina Lopez.

“I will try to do my best as President Duterte’s point man in the daunting task of protecting our environment in all its forms, from the mines, to the lakes and rivers, to the forest, to the plains, to our waters, to our sewers, to the very air we breathe – you name it – while promoting the wise and proper use of these God-given resources for the public good. That is what I understand being a steward means,” he explained.

Before his turnover ceremony on Wednesday, Cimatu received a “crash course” on environmental protection from Lopez and Senator Loren Legarda. 

Cimatu said he needs all hands on deck at the DENR, urging all DENR employees to work as a team. He also vowed to “listen to all voices out there.”

“[I intend to] make full use of our powers and our resources to ensure that these various concerns, some of which oftentimes clash, will be properly and judicially addressed. For in the end, we at the DENR will only be as effective as our various constituents will help us to be,” Cimatu added. 

Cimatu, former ambassador and chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as DENR secretary on Monday, May 8. (READ: How Cimatu found out he will be DENR chief)

He replaces Lopez, whose ad interim appointment was rejected by the powerful Commission on Appointments last May 3. –

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.