The Daily Manila Shimbun


New central bank governor, environment secretary appointed

May 8, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte named deputy central bank governor Nestor Espenilla as the incoming head of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, a cabinet secretary said in his Twitter account late Monday. “The President has decided. Nestor Espenilla is the new BSP Governor," said Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III. Espenilla’s appointment was announced during the scheduled Cabinet meeting. Espenilla will replace BSP Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. whose second term will end in July.  The incoming central bank governor served as the BSP's deputy governor for six years. Earlier, Duterte named the former head of the country’s military as the environment secretary. Duterte appointed  Roy Cimatu, also special envoy to the Middle East to the post less than a week after the Commission on Appointments rejected Regina Lopez, the president’s first appointee. Different groups were quick in questioning the track record of Cimatu, a former military general, on environmental issues. "Pursuant to the provisions of existing laws, you are hereby appointed Acting Secretary, Department of Environment and Natural Resources," Duterte's appointment paper of Cimatu. Duterte swore Cimatu into office in a ceremony in Malacanang and attended the 15th Cabinet meeting. "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 Secretary," said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in a statement. The mining sector opposed Lopez's confirmation due to some controversial orders that she made involving mining projects, such as closure of 23 mines and suspension of the operations of five others for allegedly violating environmental laws. She also banned future open pit mining. Cimatu served as chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines for four months during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. He is a member of Class 1970 of the Philippine Military Academy. Last month when Duterte attended the opening of the Palarong Pambansa in Antique, Duterte introduced Cimatu, who was with him, as "secretary." Duterte has said if things would not go well, Cimatu would be a candidate to another post, "to a busier job." The National Secretariat for Social Action (NASSA)/Caritas Philippines said Cimatu is a neophyte to environmental issues compare to Lopez. "He might have management capacity given his military career but he has no track record in terms of his stand on social justice, environmental protection, IP rights, and pro-poor development. We don’t need a DENR secretary who is a compromised choice to appease the mining industry,” it said. Greenpeace Philippines said it is concerned that Duterte has appointed someone else so quickly without first addressing the issues raised in Lopez’s term and the circumstances surrounding her rejection. "We hope that these won’t be swept under the rug.  We are a bit worried why President Duterte is in a hurry to appoint a new secretary, and also disappointed why he did not firmly stand by Gina Lopez, given that she seems to be one of the few who are earnest in implementing reforms toward positive change," it said. The environmental group wondered what would happen to the reforms started by Lopez. "These should be continued and expanded. Without prejudice to Mr. Cimatu, we have to be clear on the strengths and expertise of  an appointee as DENR Secretary. We need somebody with a clear track record on the environment.  The problem with having a DENR Secretary who has no clear track record on environmental issues is that the person likely won’t see the importance of a healthy ecosystem to a healthy economy," Greenpeace added. Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment expressed dismay and denunciation over Duterte’s appointment of Cimatu. "Duterte has clearly erred in appointing Cimatu as DENR Chief. A military man in the DENR’s helm would betray the people’s longstanding clamour for social justice and environmental protection," it said. (Celerina Monte/DMS)