Priest urges Duterte to replace DENR chief Cimatu

Priest urges Duterte to replace DENR chief Cimatu

Fishermen on a small boat drives past the small island of Manicani in Guiuan, Eastern Samar where many residents are opposing any plan to resume the nickel mining operations of Hinatuan Mining Corp. ALREN JEROME BERONIO

MANILA— The Catholic Church’s social advocacy arm called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fire Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu because he is not pro-environment enough.

The National Secretariat for Social Action specifically hit Cimatu’s order to restore the power of DENR regional offices in issuing permits, particularly for projects critical to the environment.

The move was a reversal to former DENR chief Gina Lopez’s order that centralizes the processing of environmental compliance certificate to the central office.

Cimatu and his team are also reviewing the appeals of mining companies whose operations were ordered closed or suspended as a result of the mining audit during Lopez’s time.

In his annual address to Congress, President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday warned irresponsible mining firms that he would tax them “to death” unless they stop destroying the environment.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, Nassa executive secretary, said they support Duterte’s policy to protect the environment but he needs the right person for the job.

“To implement that the President should fire the DENR secretary whose recent decisions clearly favor mining companies,” he said.

The priest said the agency needs someone “who has the guts to go against the powerful lobby of mining companies”.

“Somebody who cannot be bought,” Gariguez said.

If not, he added, Duterte himself should head the DENR instead. “Nobody is more capable,” he said.

“And Duterte should get Gina Lopez as his consultant or senior staff at DENR,” he said. CBCPNews