MANILA – Newly appointed Environment chief Roy Cimatu, a former military chief of staff and special envoy under two presidents in handling OFW-related crises, is eminently qualified to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Malacañang said Tuesday.
According to Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Cimatu is also capable of being very objective in balancing the competing interests of his constitutencies as DENR chief.
This, said Abella, is a key reason in President Duterte’s decision to name Cimatu as secretary, after the Commission on Appointments rejected the ad interim appointment of Gina Lopez last week, with some lawmakers saying her vaunted passion for the environment was not good enough because she was unqualified and unfit for the job.
The Palace was reacting to initial statements from some groups on Monday, who said Cimatu is not a good fit for DENR because he has no track record in environmental work.
Abella said that in Duterte’s view, Cimatu can be clear-eyed about the competing directions the DENR is being pulled by its role as regulator and at the same time as developmental agent.
Meanwhile, Duterte has not yet decided on whether or not to heed a suggestion to name Lopez as DENR undersecretary following her rejection at the CA. Unllike secretaries, the undersecretaries do not require CA confirmation.
1-year ban on appointing losers lapses
Abella also declined comment on speculation that Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas will be named Secretary of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which Catalino Cuy is now heading as OIC-secretary, after the resignation of Ismael Sueno.
The one-year ban on appointing to Executive branch positions the losing candidates in the May 9, 2016 elections lapses Tuesday (May 9).
Starting May 10, people who failed to land the positions they ran for in the 2016 polls – notably Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and former senator Bongbong Marcos, who both lost in the vice presidential race – may be appointed to Cabinet positions. Both men had been rumored to be among those eyed for Cabinet posts: Cayetano supposedly for Foreign Affairs and Marcos, for DILG.