MANILA (Reuters) - Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has appointed former army general and ambassador Roy Cimatu as the new environment minister, his spokesman said on Monday (May 8).
Cimatu will take over from Regina Lopez whose appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments last week, ending her 10-month mining crackdown during which she ordered the closure of more than half the mines in the world’s top nickel ore supplier.
“We are confident that Secretary Cimatu shall faithfully serve the interest of the country and the Filipino people in his capacity as the new DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) Secretary,” Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“Let us put an end to all speculations,” said Duterte as he announced the appointment of Cimatu, according to a Facebook post by Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, that shows a photo of Cimatu with Duterte and other Cabinet officials.
Duterte appointed Cimatu on April 23 as a special envoy to help overseas Filipino worker refugees.
Cimatu briefly served as chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in 2002, during the government of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Duterte has said he met Cimatu in Davao City many years ago where he served as mayor for more than two decades.
Duterte largely backed Lopez’s mining crackdown but it angered miners who then sought her removal.
Lopez in February ordered 22 of 41 operating mines to close permanently and cancelled dozens of contracts for undeveloped mines. She also banned open-pit mining.