Press Release
February 6, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today voiced apprehension that the government may fall short of its responsibility to protest and preserve the countrys forest, marine and other natural resources and to maintain ecological balance in view of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyos decision to appoint a secretary of environment and natural resources without any background, and much less interest, in this area of government concern.

Pimentel said Secretary Angelo Reyes, newly-appointed head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, may be the wrong man for the job, leaving the enormous task of preventing environmental degradation uncertain.

He said it is an open secret that Reyes preferred to stay as secretary of interior and local government because he is more at home there and did not like to be transferred to the DENR where he felt he may be ineffective because is a strange field to him.

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo owes the public an explanation why she placed Reyes, a military man, as DENR secretary when ideally and by tradition, this position should be held by a person who is an environmentalist by training and inclination, Pimentel said.

The minority leader said every indication points to the fact that Reyes reassignment to the DENR is a product of accommodation in view of Malacañang s decision to replace him with Antipolo Rep. Ronaldo Puno at the DILG.

Pimentel said the Palace wants Puno to take over the helm of the DILG so that the administration can make use of his expertise as a political operator par excellence in mobilizing the local government chief executives for the forthcoming launching of peoples initiative for Charter Change, the main aim of which is to perpetuate President Arroyo in power despite doubts over her legitimacy.

He said the appointment of Reyes is not a product of a carefully thought-of idea to maximize the benefits from utilization of natural resources or strictly implement environmental safeguards especially in the face of expanded mining operations by foreign mining companies.

On the contrary, Pimentel said Reyes was transferred to the DENR as a fallback position after he rejected the Palaces plan to appoint him ambassador to Washington D.C.

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