Roy Cimatu steps down as the Philippines' environment chief

With only a few months remaining in Cimatu’s term, he leaves his post citing health reasons.

Roy Cimatu DENR
Roy Cimatu, former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Image: DENR

Roy Cimatu, the secretary of the Philippine Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), has stepped down from his post due to health reasons.

“We wish Secretary Cimatu good health as he transitions from his decades-long and stellar service in government to private life,” the office of President Rodrigo Duterte said in a statement on Friday.

Jim Sampulna, who has been with the DENR for decades as undersecretary, has been appointed to replace Cimatu. 

Cimatu, a former army general, was appointed by Duterte as environment chief in 2017, after the Commission on Appointments rejected the late Gina Lopez from assuming the post.

The commission is a constitutional body which confirms or rejects certain political appointments made by the President of the Philippines. 

It was under Cimatu’s term that the government overturned a ban on open-pit mining that Lopez issued.

Cimatu also led the massive rehabilitation of Manila Bay, the country’s most important body of water, which is one of its most polluted, as well as the clean-up of popular beach destination Boracay.

Greenpeace Philippines country director Lea Guerrero said she hoped that the next administration, would appoint a DENR chief who is “fit and committed to implementing policies that prioritise the well-being of communities over business interests.”

The Philippines is set to hold presidential elections in May.

Guerrero said: “The next six years is a critical period where climate action must be the country’s central policy agenda. The climate crisis, compounded by pollution and biodiversity crises, will impact food security, water supply, livelihoods, and people’s health—and will undo economic gains and efforts on poverty reduction. The next administration must ensure the DENR will stay true to its mandate to protect the environment and the well-being of all Filipinos.”

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