May 9, 217
An official from the Catholic Church’s social action arm expressed his dismay over the appointment of former Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief Roy Cimatu as new Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary, replacing Gina Lopez.
National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines Executive Secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez cited Cimatu’s lack of track record, saying “he is a neophyte to environmental issues.”
“He might have the management capacity given his military career, but he has no track record in terms of his stand on social justice, environmental protection, indigenous peoples’ rights, and pro poor development,” the priest said.
Gariguez, who was a recipient of the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for grassroots environmental activism, also believed that Cimatu is not the right choice for the post.
“We don’t need a DENR secretary who is a compromised choice to appease the mining industry,” he added.
Meanwhile, at least 13 bishops and 31 priests, representing 44 dioceses all over the country submitted a letter to President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday to reappoint Gina Lopez as DENR secretary.
“Your concern for the poor and the urgent need to protect our environment and the rational management of our natural resources is something we share. If we do not care for the environment, it is the poor who are most affected, and must bear the cost of lost livelihoods, and many times, of precious lives as well,” the letter said.
Among the bishops who signed the letter are: Archbishops Rolando Tria Tirona of Caceres and Jose Palma of Cebu; and bishops Broderick Pabilo of Manila, Antonieto Cabajog of Surigao, Valentin Dimoc of Bontoc-Lagawe, and Crispin Varquez of Borongan.
The said letter was also supported by a broad coalition of organizations working on issues on the environment, anti-corruption, social justice, human rights, natural resources management and sustainable.
Among them are the Alyansa Tigil Mina, Philippine Movement for Climate Justice and the Philippine Misereor Partnership Inc.
The letter was formally submitted after the groups marched from the University of Santo Tomas as Malacanang announced the appointment of Cimatu yesterday.
The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines is the development, advocacy and humanitarian arm of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines that is working with the social action centers of the 85 dioceses nationwide.
April Ann Abello-Bulanadi