Church exec voices reservation over Cimatu’s appointment as DENR chief

Church exec voices reservation over Cimatu’s appointment as DENR chief

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), speaks during a rally in support of former environment chief Gina Lopez in Mendiola on Monday, May 8, 2017. CBCPNews

MANILA— A Catholic priest voiced reservation over the appointment of former military chief Roy Cimatu as the new head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, replacing Gina Lopez.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez of the CBCP’s National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), questioned Cimatu’s lack of experience in environmental advocacy compared to Lopez.

“Cimatu is a neophyte to environmental issues compared to Gina Lopez,” Gariguez, a recipient of the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize, said.

He said Cimatu might have management capacity given his military career “but he has no track record in terms of his stand on social justice, environmental protection, IP rights, and pro-poor development”.

“We don’t need a DENR sec who is a compromised choice to appease the mining industry,” said Gariguez, who was also hailed as “environmental hero” by both the the Earthday Jam Foundation and the Xavier University in 2016.

Cimatu was introduced by President Rodrigo Duterte to his cabinet on Monday while the priest, along with civil society groups, were holding a rally in Mendiola in support of Lopez.

Albeit a bit late, Gariguez also delivered a letter by several bishops and priests to Malacañang, asking Duterte to reappoint Lopez after she was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

The letter was signed by at least 15 bishops and more than 40 diocesan social action directors from across the country.

“Mr. President, we believe that to ensure the continued advance for real change in your administration, you must re-appoint Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary,” they said.

Among the signatories of the letter include archbishops Archbishop Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres and Jose Palma of Cebu; and bishops Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao, Valentin Dimoc of Bontoc-Lagawe, Crispin Varquez of Borongan.

According to them, Lopez’s reappointment is “imperative” because she can inspire people to commit towards a “green economy”.

“She can check and possibly end corruption in the DENR, as she herself has shown that she has zero intolerance for corruption,” they added. With reports from Aizha Anne Asiwagan