New DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu

Last Monday, May 08, former AFP Chief Roy Cimatu was appointed as new DENR Secretary by President Duterte. A retired soldier, then labor diplomat in the Middle East, and now a DENR chief.

cimatu
Perhaps near-zero official experience in managing an environment agency except in some tree planting activities of the AFP, his appointment is a guessing game for many sectors under DENR supervision — mining, forestry, solid waste, air pollution, coastal resources, rivers/lakes/sea water quality, land titling, etc.

Since all Cabinet posts are political appointees of the President, then it is assumed that the major policies of the appointed Secretary are also the policies of the President.

I am not a fan of “good governance” in a BIG government because it is a contradiction in terms. Big government almost always lead to bad governance because government would over-extend its power of coercion. Like creating a dozen new regulations on top of hundreds of regulations, laws and prohibitions that are already in place. That is what former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez did, creating new department regulations (administrative orders (AOs), department circulars (DCs), etc.) that pile up new requirements on top of existing ones, resulting in the closure and/or suspension of many mining firms.

The big question now is whether the new DENR Secretary will focus on the rule of law, enforce existing laws and regulations before creating new department orders or seek new laws in Congress. Like the laws regulating small-scale mines and quarrying equally implemented as the laws regulating large-scale metallic, non-metallic mines and quarrying.

This act alone of focusing on the rule of law will be a big improvement in the department and in the national government as a whole. A better situation of course is that many existing regulations that are “out of tune” are abolished, or consolidated with others so that instead of having 10 “out of tunes” AOs, DCs and other department orders, they are consolidated into one AO that is more “in tune” with the times.

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