Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Roy Cimatuon Fridayordered Ipilan Nickel Corp. (INC) to stop its tree cutting activities which violate the suspension of its environmental compliance certificate (ECC).
The new DENR secretary also told the company to get ready for more charges that the agency will be filing.
INC is also facing the cancellation of its other permits like their Strategic Environmental Plan (SEP) clearance as appealed by the government of Brooke’s Point in Palawan, where it operates.
Following an aerial and ground inspection of the company’s site, Cimatu said there were almost no trees left.
However, INC said its move was not illegal since their ECC is still valid and is pending appeal.
Mining and Geosciences Bureau Director Roland de Jesus clarified that the DENR sent the company a letter that said they were not allowed to conduct any activity after their ECC suspension, including cutting trees.
“There will be no going around the law,” the DENR chief told the mining firm. “You should be man enough to face the consequences if you make a mistake.”
NEW DENR CHIEF
Cimatu replaced former DENR secretary Gina Lopez, who was rejected from her post by the Commission on Appointments (CA) after her 10-month term.
He is a member of the Philippine Military Academy (PMA) class of 1970, and served as the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief of staff from May to September 2002.
After his retirement in 2002, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo name him Middle East crisis manager during the USA’s attack on Iraq. He later became the country’s special envoy to the Middle East and chaired the Philippine Middle East Preparedness Committee.
Former President Benigno Aquino III extended Cimatu’s term to June 30, 2011. During the same year, he was charged with plunder after a former military budget officer said he took home P110 million upon his retirement in 2002.
Cimatu denied these claims before the Senate and said his only send-off gifts were the 40 medals and citations he received during his military career. In 2012, the Ombudsman dismissed the charges.
President Rodrigo Duterte introduced Cimatu as the newest member of the Cabinet during his opening ceremony speech at the Palarong Pambansa this year. However, the new DENR chief has yet to be confirmed by the CA.