MANILA, Philippines – While Gina Lopez has let go of her post and even sang about it, the ousted Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary won’t really be gone. She will just be on the other side of the fence — in the private sector continuing her advocacy for the environment.
This was what Lopez told her successor Roy Cimatu as she relinquished her post to the former military official during a program at the DENR head office in Quezon City on Wednesday, May 10.
“I’m committing publicly. I will help you from the private sector, Lopez told Cimatu before capping her speech with the popular 2013 Disney song, “Let it Go.”
“It’s time to see what I can do, to test the limits and break through,” belted out Lopez with two other female singers as Cimatu was sitting beside them on the stage.
Lopez was optimistic that Cimatu would be able to a good job at the DENR. “People who are with him say he’s good in logistics and I feel he’s a good man.”
Cimatu was all praises to Lopez, saying he wished he could approximate her passion for the environment.
He described his predecessor as a “very passionate and ardent advocate of environmental protection and inclusive growth.”
Meanwhile, critics claim President Rodrigo Duterte erred in his decision to appoint Cimatu.
Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas secretary-general Antonio Flores said the newly appointed DENR chief “was among the pioneers and implementors of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 during the Arroyo regime that killed hundreds of farmers, workers and activists including anti-mining advocates.”
“Cimatu will definitely defend and kill to protect the interests of large-scale local and foreign mining companies,” said Flores.
“Cimatu will only serve as the head guard of the internal defense force of large-scale mining firms. We do not want a DENR that will aid mining corporations in massive land grabbing of ancestral lands and the wanton destruction of the environment. His appointment should be blocked and rejected,” he added.
Cimatu on Wednesday admitted that he was not yet familiar with his new job and asked that he be given time to fully understand the functions and responsibilities of a DENR secretary.
“Here I am wading in 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,” he said.
WATCH NEWS5 VIDEO OF GINA LOPEZ SINGING ‘LET IT GO:’