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Priest demands firing of Philippines' environment chief

Many activists regard Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu as being pro-mining

Published: July 27, 2017 05:24 AM GMT

Updated: July 27, 2017 06:04 AM GMT

Priest demands firing of Philippines' environment chief

Philippine Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu is sworn into office by President Rodrigo Duterte on May 7. (Photo courtesy of Malacanang Photos)

The head of the social action arm of the Philippine Catholic bishops' conference called on President Rodrigo Duterte to fire his new environment chief who many environmental activists see as "pro-mining."

Father Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the bishops' National Secretariat for Social Action, said the president should remove Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu for allowing regional environment offices to issue mining permits.

In his annual State of the Nation Address on July 24, Duterte warned "irresponsible" mining companies to stop destroying the environment.

Father Gariguez, however, said the president should first remove Cimatu whose recent decisions "clearly favor mining companies."

The priest said the government’s Environment Department needs a leader "who has the guts to go against the powerful mining lobby."

Cimatu was appointed by Duterte as environment chief after the Philippine Congress rejected the appointment of environmental activist Regina Lopez.

Lopez has been aggressive in her campaign against mining operations in the country and ordered the closure and suspension of several mining operations.


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