Unsuitable for DENR post
We, the small fisherfolk under the banner of Pamalakaya-Pilipinas, express our strong opposition to the confirmation of Roy Cimatu as secretary to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Cimatu has completely aborted the positive gestures of his predecessor Gina Lopez in the environment department, particularly Lopez’s stand against land reclamation projects because of its disastrous effects to the environment and the people’s livelihood.
Contrary to Lopez, who refrained from issuing environmental compliance certificates to reclamation projects, Cimatu in one interview said that he will allow reclamation activities to proceed for it is “allowed by the law.”
With more than 100 reclamation projects covering almost 40,000 hectares of fishing waters approved throughout the archipelago, millions of fisherfolk and coastal settlers are under the threat of widespread community displacement in exchange for eco-tourism hub, commercial business districts, and even government projects that only benefit the private sector.
Reclamation not only threatens the people’s socio-economic rights, it also poses serious damage and destruction to abundant marine resources such as seabed, corals, and mangrove areas resulting to ecosystem imbalance and reduction of marine productivity. Such activity has been legalized by the Philippine Reclamation Authority, an attached agency of the DENR, through the crafting of the National Reclamation Plan.
We fear that keeping Cimatu in his position would expedite the completion of all reclamation projects, and will effectively wipe out productive fishing communities and millions of hardworking fisherfolk from the Philippine map, like what happened to more than 6,000 fishing families in 2002 upon construction of the Entertainment City project in Manila Bay along Roxas Boulevard in Parañaque City.
Cimatu is bringing back the traditional orientation of the DENR as the number one facilitator of destructive projects at the cost of the environment and the welfare of the people.
As a known corrupt former military general who was also a notorious defender of environmental plunderers, Cimatu is morally and politically not suitable to head the environment department.
Instead, we want no less than the likes of Gina Lopez in order to continue the positive reforms on the environment that are also beneficial to the Filipino people.
FERNANDO HICAP, national chair, Pamalakaya-Pilipinas
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