Cimatu resigns as DENR chief due to health reasons, to return to private life, says Palace

Malacanang wishes Cimatu good health as it cites his ‘stellar performance” in gov’t

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary and Manila Bay Task Force Chair Roy A. Cimatu watches the sunset during his visit to the Manila Baywalk Dolomite Beach on Sunday, Oct. 17, a day after it was reopened to the public. Cimatu said the beach area near the US Embassy is just the Phase 1 of the Beach Nourishment Project of the task force and the stretch of 500 meters from the said area will be covered with white sand. The Manila Bay rehab is part of the DENR compliance with the Supreme Court Writ of Continuing Mandamus directing 13 government agencies and private entities to clean up, rehabilitate, and preserve Manila Bay, and to restore and maintain its waters to SB level that is fit for swimming, skin-diving, and other forms of contact recreation. (Photo courtesy DENR)


(Eagle News) — Environment Secretary Rey Cimatu has resigned due to health reasons and will be returning to private life, Malacanang confirmed on Friday, February 18.

In a statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson Karlo Nograles announced Cimatu’s resignation and wished him well after a “stellar service in government.”

“Malacañang confirms the resignation of Roy Cimatu as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) due to health reasons, with Undersecretary Jim Sampulna being designated as Officer-in-Charge of the Department,” Nograles said.

“We wish Secretary Cimatu good health as he transitions from his decades-long and stellar service in government to private life,” he said.

-Gains in Boracay and Manila Bay rehab, among Cimatu’s achievements as DENR chief-

Cimatu is remembered for his achievements in helping President Rodrigo Duterte to clean-up and rehabilitate Boracay Island which was described as a “cesspool” by Duterte when he ordered its temporary closure in April 2018.

Cimatu, who became the secretary of the DENR in May 2017, had led the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF) that was created on May 8, 2018 to oversee the rehabilitation of Boracay.

In October 2021, Cimatu reported that the water quality in the beaches of Boracay had “significantly improved since the rehabilitation of the island destination started in 2018.”

Cimatu said that fecal coliform levels from 21 stations were down to 45 MPN/100 ml on average as of October last year.

He said that the term extension given to the task force until June 2022 should be enough to tie up all the loose ends of the island’s rehabilitation.

“As we all know, the 2022 polls is just around the corner, thus, we must ensure that we have the proper mechanisms in place so that our hard work and efforts would not turn to naught,” Cimatu said during the BIATF meeting in Boracay Island on Friday, Oct. 22.

President Duterte also gave Cimatu the challenging task of rehabilitating the Manila Bay in 2019 after he was impressed with the DENR chief’s performance in cleaning up Boracay.

Manila Bay coastline stretches 190 kilometers across three regions from Cavite in Calabarzon, National Capital Region (NCR) or the Metro Manila area, and Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon.

On January 27, 2019, Cimatu officially declared the start of the Manila Rehabilitation at the Baywalk in Manila. He has defended the DENR project to use crushed dolomite to cover part of Manila Bay’s coastline, saying this does not pose any health risk to the public, and will in fact even clean the waters of Manila Bay.

He cited various studies on dolomite and how this had been used as part of the “beach nourishment” process in various popular and high-end beaches in Cebu.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu reporting to President Rodrigo Duterte during the latter’s Talk to the People on August 26, 2021 (Screenshot of PCOO/RTVM video)

Amid the Covid-19 pandemic, President Duterte also assigned Cimatu on June 22, 2020 to oversee the COVID-19 response in Cebu City when it had a high number of Covid cases.

-Pres. Duterte praises Cimatu-

President Duterte had earlier praised Cimatu for his performance as the DENR chief, thanking him for his contribution to the country, particularly his efforts to rehabilitate Boracay Island and Manila Bay.

“In not so many words, talagang industrious ka. Typical of a military upbringing. Salamat sa contribution mo sa bayan natin,” said the President in his Talk to the People in August last year.

“For so many years you had every chance to do it (clean up Manila Bay), was there anybody willing to take the problem by its horn? Si Cimatu lang, magpasalamat tayo,” the President said as he addressed the critics of the “dolomite beach” in Manila Bay on August 26, 2021.

A native of Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Secretary Cimatu is a graduate of the public school system from the elementary up to high school. He graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in the class of 1970.

He had a successful military career and also graduated from the United States Army Command and Staff College in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, USA. He also furthered his education with a degree in Master in Business Administration from the Ateneo Graduate School of Business. A skilled pilot of a helicopter and a fixed – wing aircraft, he was also a recipient of the Cavalier Award from the Philippine Military Academy Alumni Association and a Hall of Fame from the United States Command and General Staff college, according to his profile at the DENR website.

Cimatu was appointed as the 29th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in May 2002.

After he retired from the military service, Cimatu was called again to serve the government  and was named as a Special Presidential Envoy to the Middle East with the rank of Ambassador by former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

“At the height of the US-Iraq war, his Middle East Preparedness Committee made sure that no overseas Filipino worker (OFW) was hurt, killed or displaced from employment because of the conflict. He was able to negotiate a successful release of a Filipino hostage named Angelo dela Cruz, who was kidnapped by Iraqi militants in Baghdad, Iraq in 2004. Cimatu received a Presidential Award because of his bravery and perspicacity as a strategist for the triumphant negotiation,” his DENR profile read.

Cimatu is the 16th secretary of the DENR.

(Eagle News Service)

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