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Cimatu to allow responsible mining

MANILA, Philippines - Yes, there will be mining in the country, but only responsible mining.

Newly appointed Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatu said that mining companies would be allowed to operate as long as they do not destroy the environment and are properly managed.

“I will go to the areas personally. I will check those with evaluation that are not good,” he told radio station dzBB.

Cimatu said he will be “moderate and calm” in implementing policies of the DENR since he has yet to fully understand the situation in the department.

He said he admires former environment secretary Gina Lopez, adding that he will try to gain the respect of her supporters.

The Commission on Apppointments (CA) recently rejected the appointment of Lopez.

“I admire the passion for the environment of the former secretary. I will be honored to meet her and try to get some insights from her about the environment,” Cimatu said.

He added that he would try to review what’s left on the table of the former DENR secretary, and determine the real situation, both of the mining companies allowed to operate and those suspended, and find the difference.

A graduate of Philippine Military Academy (PMA) Class of 1970, Cimatu as a then junior officer spearheaded the military campaign against the communist insurgents operating in the tri-boundary of Antique, Capiz, Aklan and Iloilo in late 1970s.

From being an NPA hunter in Panay Island, Cimatu, whose unit was under direct supervision of the Cebu-based Central Command (CentCom), a key military unit then involved in the Mindanao campaign, later found himself leading his men against the Muslim secessionist movement in Central Mindanao.

“His new job would require skills of doing a balancing act, which I know he can handle well. When before he used to do combat with the rebels, this time he can apply the skills he learned when he was a diplomat,” a senior military officer said.

Senators urged Cimatu not to be intimidated by giant mining firms.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito wished Cimatu the best as he has “big shoes to fill after Gina Lopez, who has opened the eyes of the Filipino people on the dangers of mining abuse.”

“Hoping Cimatu will not be intimidated by mining giants,” Ejercito said.

Sens. Panfilo Lacson and Gregorio Honasan welcomed Cimatu’s appointment.

“He is definitely a good choice. I happen to know him all the way back to our PMA days,” Lacson said. Referring to the Philippine Military Academy.

Honasan said Cimatu has the capacity to provide continuity to good long-term plans at the DENR.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said he expects Cimatu to have an easier time than Lopez in the CA.

“But we scrutinize all appointees. No issue is trivial in the CA,” Sotto said.

Surigao del Norte Rep. Robert Ace Barbers lauded President Duterte’s decision to appoint Cimatu as DENR chief.

“A nationalist par excellence, I am confident that he will use the law to further the interests of the people and promote sustainable developments in the country,” Barbers, chairman of the House of Representatives’ committee on dangerous drugs, said.

Siquijor Rep. Rav Rocamora called on the new DENR chief to give his support to the institutionalization of the Philippine Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (PH-EITI).

Rocamora, author of House Bill 4116 that seeks to establish the PH-EITI, said that the proposed law is an important tool to ensure that the revenues from mining truly go to their intended recipients.

Farmers oppose Cimatu

Meanwhile, militant farmers yesterday condemned the appointment of Cimatu.

“Cimatu was among the pioneers and implementors of the counterinsurgency program Oplan Bantay Laya 1 during the Arroyo administration that killed hundreds of farmers, workers and activists, including anti-mining advocates,” said the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) in a statement.

Cimatu will definitely defend and kill to protect the interests of large-scale local and foreign mining companies,” said KMP secretary general Antonio Flores.

An official of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday said Cimatu is not a worthy replacement for Lopez.

“Cimatu is a neophyte to environmental issues compared to Gina Lopez. He might have management capacity given his military career but he has no track record in terms of his stand on social justice, environmental protection, indigenous people (IP)’s rights and pro-poor development,” said CBCP-National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA) executive director Fr. Edu Gariguez.

He also said the new DENR secretary should maintain a firm position and not enter into a compromise with mining firms.

IP group Cordillera Peoples Alliance (CPA) dared Cimatu to do “a Gina, referring to Lopez.

“We challenge (Cimatu) to take on the environmental advocacy of the former DENR secretary Gina Lopez especially on mining,” said CPA secretary general Abigail Anongos.

She said Cimatu should monitor and shut down large mining companies with clear track records of human rights violations, environmental destruction and abuses against indigenous communities.

Cimatu in an interview over a local radio station admitted he did not have complete knowledge on the mining industry and had to inspect mining companies to check on the real situation.

Last week, the CPA condemned the Committee on Appointments (CA) for rejecting the appointment of Lopez.

Environmental groups have been campaigning for the repeal of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and the enactment of the People’s Mining Bill.

Lopez earned praise from environmentalists when she ordered the closure of large-scale mining firms. – With Evelyn Macairan, Delon Porcalla, Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude, Artemio Dumlao, Ding Cervantes

Cimatu to allow responsible mining Cimatu to allow responsible mining Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 1:38:00 AM Rating: 5

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