DAVAO CITY – Peasant group Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas said that Malacanang and the Commission on Appointments conducted negotiations for an arrangement that would appoint former Armed Forces of the Philippines chief of staff and retired general Roy Cimatu as the environment secretary in exchange for rejecting Gina Lopez.
“Could it be that President Duterte was already considering Cimatu for the DENR post even before the Commission on Appointments rejected Gina Lopez?” asked Antonio Flores, secretary general of KMP in a statement to the media on Monday.
Flores took consideration on the possibility that the CA’s thumbs down on Lopez obviously had the blessings of President Rodrigo Duterte and that the CA’s decision was a “quid pro quo” agreement between Malacanang and the members of the powerful body.
“It seems that Malacanang ‘parked’ Cimatu for the DENR post. Two weeks ago, Duterte announced that Cimatu will join his Cabinet and was appointed as special envoy for OFW (Overseas Filipino Workers) refugees but would be transferred to a busier post,” the KMP leader said.
The group also condemned the appointment of Cimatu who once served as the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
“Roy Cimatu will definitely defend and kill to protect the interests of large-scale local and foreign mining companies,” Flores added.
He added that Cimatu was among the pioneers who implemented the counter-insurgency program “Oplan Bantay Laya 1” that killed hundreds of farmers, workers, and activists including anti-mining advocates.
The group also expressed deep concern about the trend that the administration of the President is leading to – and that is the “creeping militarization of the civilian bureaucracy.”
“First, General Ricardo Visaya was appointed at the National Irrigation Administration. Now Cimatu is poised to lead the DENR. Cimatu at the DENR will only work well for the benefit of mining companies. This is a big letdown and undermining of what Gina Lopez has started in the environment agency.”
Flores also emphasized that Cimatu will only serve as the head guard of the internal defense force of large-scale mining firms.
“We do not want a DENR that will aid mining corporations in the massive land grabbing of ancestral lands and the wanton destruction of the environment. His appointment should be blocked and rejected,” he pointed out.
The group also believes that Cimatu will work closely with the AFP to deploy military and civilian defense units to protect mining companies and quell the people’s resistance to anti-people mining operations and other development aggression projects.
“Malacanang’s political power play and deliberate placement of more ‘rightists’ in the Cabinet in an attempt to overrun known progressive officials like Judy Taguiwalo, Rafael Mariano and Liza Maza will be to the detriment and disadvantage of the people,” Flores added.
He also announced that farmers and indigenous peoples from various groups will launch protests to counter the appointment of Cimatu to the DENR. (davaotoday.com)