Resigned DENR secretary Roy Cimatu (File photo)

MANILA – There was no corruption issue hurled at resigned Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu when he was still leading the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), Malacañang said Friday.
The clarification was made, a day after Duterte bared that he had fired at least six Cabinet officials involved in the questionable reclamation deals in Manila Bay.

In a press statement, acting Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Cimatu vacated the Environment post because of health reasons.

“Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Roy Cimatu resigned due to health reasons,” Andanar said. “There is, therefore, no truth to the insinuation and/or rumor of his involvement in corruption.”

Duterte, in a speech delivered in Lapu-Lapu City on Thursday, refused to name the six Cabinet members who were dismissed from service because of their supposed involvement in the anomalous Manila Bay reclamation proposals.

Duterte, however, said the corruption issue had prompted him to direct the DENR to stop the processing of applications for reclamation activities.

Andanar said Duterte was not referring to Cimatu.

“The Office of the Presidential Spokesperson on February 18, 2022 even released a statement wishing the former DENR Secretary good health,” he said. “Moreover, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in numerous occasions commended former Secretary Cimatu in the successful transformation and clean-up of Boracay and Manila Bay.”

Cimatu, a retired chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, submitted his resignation letter to Duterte’s office on February 17 due to health reasons.

Cimatu was named as DENR chief in May 2017, after the Commission on Appointments rejected the appointment of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Cimatu was also tapped as an overseer of the government’s intensified pandemic response strategies in Cebu City on top of his job as DENR secretary.

In an online Palace press briefing, acting Deputy Presidential Spokesperson and Communications Undersecretary Michel Kristian Ablan said the Palace would let the legal process run its course over the alleged involvement of sacked Cabinet officials in corruption.

“If kabuuan po iyan ng DENR officials, meron naman po tayong pina-follow dito po sa executive branch (If it involves DENR officials, the executive branch is following the right process),” Ablan said. “Dadaan naman po tayo sa tamang proseso kung meron po talagang proof na may corruption na nangyari (We will follow the right procedures if there is a proof of corruption). So we have to trust our institutions and we have to trust our processes.” (PNA)