Was it really health reasons why Cimatu quit photo Philippine Star

Was it really health reasons why Cimatu quit?

Feb 20, 2022, 2:56 AM
Rose De La Cruz

Rose De La Cruz


Was the hasty departure/resignation of Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu really because of health reasons? Browsing through the net would not yield any medical history of Cimatu. But is he embarking on other missions or plans for the incoming administration?

UPON reading the report from the Palace about Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Agullana Cimatu quitting his post for “health reasons” I browsed long hours searching for any medical report on this bemedaled general, who on June 22, 2020, was assigned by the President to oversee the COVID19 response in Cebu City, which by then had the highest number of infections in the country.

Other than that, no other material linking his family’s medical history to his medical condition now except for his age, he is now 75 (born on July 4, 1946).

Cimatu, who assumed the top post at DENR on May 18, 2017 (until his resignation on February 18) had been harshly criticized in recent months for his lifting of the ban on open pit mining and investing on the dolomite sand beach in Manila Bay, when the country was deep into the pandemic.

Reactions to his resignation

But even his harshest critics were moved by his resignation. The Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM), which has been critical of the DENR’s policies on mining, said in a statement:

“We are surprised by Sec. Roy Cimatu’s resignation as DENR Secretary. We are praying he recovers from his health situation.”

ATM also called on Undersecretary Jim Sampulna, the OIC,

“to listen to mining-affected communities and open the lines for discussion on resolving mining issues and concerns.”

The nongovernment alliance also aired hopes that the DENR would consider “re-imposing the ban on open-pit mining and the suspension of operations of mining sites that are detrimental to communities.”

Cimatu, a former Armed Forces chief of staff, was tapped by President Duterte to head the DENR in 2017.

Global environmental watchdog, Greenpeace (Phils) country director Lea Guerrero said:

“Greenpeace Philippines wishes Mr. Cimatu good health as he vacates a very crucial role.”

“With only a few months remaining in Mr. Cimatu’s unexpired term, we are hoping that DENR, under the leadership of OIC Jim Sampulna, will deliver on the agency’s mandates, especially in the areas of climate action, solid waste management, and ensuring safe air quality, among others.”

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (who announced to palace reporters Cimatu’s resignation) said “we wish Secretary Cimatu good health as he transitions from his decades-long and stellar service in government to private life.” Nograles said.

Cimatu replaced Lopez in 2017 when she was rejected by the congressional Commission on Appointments.

Environmentalists also criticized the DENR under Cimatu's leadership for granting environmental compliance certificates for the New Manila International Airport in Bulacan and the New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Rizal and Quezon provinces, which are feared to harm the environment and communities.

Cimatu and mistahs visit Veterans Hospital

Last September 26, 2018 Cimatu, accompanied by Undersecretary Rodolfo Garcia and several mistahs of PMA Class 1970, toured the Veterans Memorial Medical Center in line with PMA Class 1970 members to have their own ward inside VMMC. Was he preparing for his eventual hospitalization?

After the tour, they identified an open area right outside the rooftop of Ward 21 where the Class 1970 ward will be erected.

Several PMA Class Associations had initiated and supported infra projects in the hospital. Recently, the Association of General and Flag Officers (AGFO) funded the renovation of the AGFO Suite at Ward-21. Similarly, PMA “Sandigan” Class öf 1982 sponsored the renovation of a private ward at Ward-11. Currently, the construction and extension of six private rooms at the opposite end of Ward 21 is ongoing. This infrastructure project is financially supported by PMA “Matikas” Class of 1983, said a report on VMMC website.

Long list of govt. posts

After graduating at PMA in 1970, Cimatu was immediately assigned in Cotabato City as platoon leader and executive officer of the Alpha Company of the 11th Infantry Battalion under the 3rd Infantry Division.

Then as commander of the 4th ID of the Philippine Army based in Cagayan de Oro from 1999 to 2001, he led the campaign against the MILF which resulted in the capture of most of its 46 camps in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao. He earned the moniker “General Pacman” for his efficiency during the “all out war” of President Estrada.

In 2001, Cimatu was appointed as the Commanding General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) based in Zamboanga City (now AFP Western Mindanao Command). During his short stint as Southcom chief, he took part in the first Balikatan 02-1 military exercise between the US and Philippines.

In May 2002, President Arroyo appointed him as the 30th AFP Chief of Staff for his 36 years of military service, when he crafted and implemented a comprehensive anti-terrorist campaign plan to break the backbone of the Abu Sayyaf and to decimate other terror groups. He spearheaded Operation Endgame in Sulu under Operation Enduring Freedom that eventually led to the killing of Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya in June 2002.[5] Cimatu retired on September 10, 2002 and was replaced by Benjamin Defensor Jr. as AFP chief.

As a former chief of staff, Cimatu was accused by former AFP budget officer Col. George Rabusa of receiving send-off money or pabaon when he retired in September 2002. During the Senate hearing on the 2011 Armed Forces of the Philippines corruption scandal, Rabusa said the retiring AFP chiefs, which also included Diomedio Villanueva and Angelo Reyes, received at least ₱50 million from the pabaon system. The Department of Justice filed plunder charges against Cimatu and other high-ranking AFP officials in June 2011 for allegedly accumulating ill-gotten wealth sourced from the conversion of military funds. Rodrigo Duterte, then the mayor of Davao City, defended Cimatu from the allegation saying “ I do not believe that Gen. Roy Cimatu has millions.” In April 2013 the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the dismissal of the plunder charges for lack of evidence.

His awards in the military are:

The former military chief-turned-environment secretary oversaw the six-month rehabilitation of Boracay, the country’s most famous tourist island.

He also led the restoration of Manila Bay, which includes transforming a polluted stretch of the bay’s shoreline into an artificial white sand beach made from crushed dolomite rocks.

During his term as environment chief, the retired Army general sought to strengthen the enforcement of the country’s environmental laws by pushing for the creation of Environmental Protection and Enforcement Bureau.

Cimatu also chaired the government’s Task Force Build Back Better, directed by the President to ensure post-disaster rehabilitation efforts in typhoon-hit areas.

Tags: #RoyCimatu, #DENR, #resignationforhealthreasons, #government

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