Cimatu relieves two DENR Region 9 officials over Zamboanga disaster

Two DENR-Region 9 officials were ordered relieved from their post as Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy A. Cimatu on Thursday personally looked into reported environmental degradation that triggered flash floods and mudslides in the Zamboanga Peninsula during Tropical Storm Vinta.

“Enough is enough. It’s not just because of command responsibility. We also want to know if there was negligence among my men,“ Cimatu said after leading an aerial inspection of the extent of the damage wrought by private companies operating through the Integrated Forest Management Agreement (IFMA) that were being blamed for the disaster

Cimatu said he will not hesitate to file charges against any DENR personnel found conniving with illegal activities, along with IFMA violators.

Saying it was part of the on-going reorganization within the Department, Cimatu then designated Carlito Tuballa as Region 9 OIC director and Dr. Salahudin Caing as chief of the DENR’s Zamboanga del Norte Provincial Environment and Natural Resources Office (PENRO).

The former regional director, Felix Mirasol, was reassigned as Region 10 assistant director, while Zamboanga del Norte OIC PENRO Geoffrey S. Zayas was appointed chief to the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (Cenro) in Liloy.

Tuballa was assistant regional director for Region 8 prior to his new assignment.

“This is not just a warning. We will do it,” Cimatu remarked as he directed DENR field officers nationwide to be more vigilant and strictly enforce the law against firms that are not complying with the DENR regulations.

The DENR secretary earlier ordered a review of all the 104 IFMAs and warned that he would cancel all agreements where there are violations and prosecute the culprits.

Cimatu had already suspended the operations of South Davao Development Co. Inc., (SODACO) and the Sirawai Plywood & Lumber Corp (SPLC) in Sibuco town, both under Dacon Group of Companies on the orders of President Duterte.

IFMA is an agreement of private companies with the DENR to establish industrial tree plantations, which they can harvest but are restricted to cut residual trees unless authorized by the Office of the DENR Secretary under very strict conditions such as for site development and plantation establishment. ###