Toni Yulo-Loyzaga named the Philippines’ new environment chief

Loyzaga’s appointment comes in the wake of the new administration’s current plan to ramp up the mining industry to boost the ailing post-pandemic economy.

Toni Yulo-Loyzaga DENR
Toni Yulo-Loyzaga, incoming secretary of the department of environment and natural resources, has disaster risk reduction and climate protection as her expertise. Image: Carlos P. Romulo Foundation

Toni Yulo-Loyzaga has been selected by Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. as the next secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the office of the president said on Tuesday.

Loyzaga is the president of the National Resilience Council, a science and technology-based and evidence-informed public-private partnership that engages local government in making climate and disaster resilience a priority in the Philippines. She was also the executive director of the Manila Observatory, which researches weather patterns in the Philippines. 

Loyzaga’s appointment comes in the wake of the newly elected Marcos administration declaring its plan to ramp up the mining industry as part of plans to aid post-pandemic economy recovery.

Last week, finance secretary Benjamin Diokno said the economic team has already presented the medium-term fiscal plan to President Marcos during their first Cabinet meeting, which includes accelerating the growth of the mining industry. 

Anti-mining non-profit Alyansa Tigil Mina said it was “cautiously optimistic” with Loyzaga’s appointment.

“We expect her to use and rely more on science-based analysis to decide on environmental policies and practices at the DENR,” said Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina.

“On the other hand, this is her first political appointment and she might face serious challenges in confronting the vested corporate interests that want to influence DENR policies, especially on mining and the environmental empact assessments of projects.” 

It will be interesting to see how her science background will help her to respond to the clamor of the economic team for more mining projects, which could increase climate risk and vulnerabilities, Garganera added. 

Loyzaga replaces Roy Cimatu, who resigned as DENR chief in February due to health reasons. He has since been substituted by two officers-in-charge, with the most recent appointment made by former President Rodrigo Duterte days before he stepped down from office. 

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