Roy Cimatu

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Roy Cimatu

Roy Cimatu NAPOCOR.jpg
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources
Assumed office
May 8, 2017
PresidentRodrigo Duterte
Preceded byGina Lopez (Ad interim)
30th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
In office
May 18, 2002 – September 10, 2002
PresidentGloria Macapagal Arroyo
Preceded byDiomedio Villanueva
Succeeded byBenjamin Defensor Jr.
Personal details
Roy Agullana Cimatu

(1946-07-04) July 4, 1946 (age 72)
Bangui, Ilocos Norte, Philippines
Spouse(s)Fe Aguillon
ChildrenDennis Cimatu
Alma materPhilippine Military Academy
United States Army Command and General Staff College
Ateneo de Manila University
AwardsPHL Gawad Mabini BAR.png Gawad Mabini Grand Cross[1]
Military service
AllegiancePhilippine flag Philippines
Branch/servicePhilippine Army
Years of service1970-2002
RankGeneral General
CommandsChief of Staff,
Armed Forces of the Philippines

AFP Southern Command
4th Infantry Division, PA
11th Infantry Brigade, 3ID, PA
Battles/warsMoro conflict
CPP-NPA-NDF rebellion
Operation Enduring Freedom

Roy Agullana Cimatu (born 4 July 1946)[2] is a Filipino retired general who is the current Philippine Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, serving in the Duterte Administration. He succeeded environmentalist Gina Lopez after her nomination was rejected by the Commission on Appointments on May 3, 2017.[3] Cimatu is a retired Philippine Army general who previously served as the 30th Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines under President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and as Special Envoy to the Middle East during the Iraq War.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Roy Cimatu was born on July 4, 1946 in Bangui, Ilocos Norte, the third child of war veteran Fidel Magarro Cimatu Sr. and public school teacher Clara Agullana.[2] His father joined the guerilla movement and the 15th Infantry of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines at the Battle of Bessang Pass during World War II.[5][6] He completed his elementary education at Bangui Elementary School, and completed high school at Bangui National High School.[2]

Cimatu studied engineering for two years at the National University in Manila before taking and passing the entrance exam for the Philippine Military Academy.[2] He took the Infantry Officers Advanced Course with the Philippine Army Training Command and graduated from the Academy as a second lieutenant of the Magiting Class of 1970 and topped his batch and received the highest grade of 97.27%.[2][5] He then enrolled at the Aerostar Flying School to become a certified helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft pilot.[7] He also trained at the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, U.S.[5]

Cimatu has a master's degree in Business Administration from Ateneo de Manila University.[5]


Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)[edit]

Cimatu spent most of his military career in Mindanao. After graduating from the Philippine Military Academy in 1970, he was immediately assigned in Cotabato City as platoon leader and executive officer of the Alpha Company of the 11th Infantry Battalion under the 3rd Infantry Division.[5]

As Commander of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Cagayan de Oro from 1999 to 2001, Cimatu led the 2000 Philippine campaign against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front which resulted in the successful capture of most of the 46 camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao.[4] He earned the moniker "General Pacman" for his efficiency during the "all-out war" launched by President Joseph Estrada versus the MILF rebels.[5]

In 2001, Cimatu was appointed as the Commanding General of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) based in Zamboanga City (now AFP Western Mindanao Command). During his short stint as Southcom chief, he took part in the Balikatan 02-1 military exercises between the Philippines and the United States which took place for the first time in Basilan amid the U.S.-led War on Terror.[8]

Then-Chief of Staff Cimatu with then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on May 2002

In May 2002, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appointed Cimatu as the 30th AFP Chief of Staff citing his accomplishments in his 36 years of military service.[8][4] As the AFP chief, Cimatu crafted and implemented a comprehensive anti-terrorist campaign plan to break the backbone of the Abu Sayyaf and to decimate other terror groups in the country. He spearheaded Operation Endgame in Sulu under Operation Enduring Freedom that eventually led to the killing of Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya in June 2002.[5] Cimatu retired on September 10, 2002 and was replaced by Benjamin Defensor Jr. as AFP chief.[5]

As a former Chief of Staff, Cimatu was accused by former AFP budget officer Col. George Rabusa of receiving send-off money or pabaon when he retired in September 2002.[4] During the Senate hearing on the 2011 Armed Forces of the Philippines corruption scandal, Rabusa said the retiring AFP chiefs, which also included Diomedio Villanueva and Angelo Reyes, received at least ₱50 million from the pabaon system. The Department of Justice filed plunder charges against Cimatu and other high-ranking AFP officials in June 2011 for allegedly accumulating ill-gotten wealth sourced from the conversion of military funds.[4] Rodrigo Duterte, then the mayor of Davao City, defended Cimatu from the allegations. In his weekend television program Gikan Sa Masa, Para Sa Masa, Duterte said "I do not believe that General Roy Cimatu has millions."[9]

An April 2013 decision by the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the dismissal of the plunder charges for lack of evidence.[4]

His awards in the military are:

Special envoy[edit]

Upon his retirement from military service, President Arroyo appointed Cimatu as Special Envoy to the Middle East and head of the Middle East Preparedness Team (MEPT) in 2002 that was tasked to look after the safety and welfare of overseas Filipino workers in the Middle East amid the tensions brought by the Iraq War.[4] He was the chief negotiator for the release of kidnapped Filipinos in Iraq including the truck driver Angelo de la Cruz who was abducted by Iraqi insurgents near the city of Fallujah in 2004.[10]

As Arroyo's envoy, Cimatu also negotiated for the surrender of 326 AFP officers who joined the Magdalo Group in the Oakwood mutiny in July 2003.[11] Cimatu served as Special Envoy to the Middle East for President Arroyo until 2010 and for President Benigno Aquino III from 2010 to June 30, 2011.[4][12]

On October 11, 2016, Cimatu was reappointed to the same position as Special Envoy to the Middle East by President Rodrigo Duterte.[13] As Duterte's special envoy, he was part of the President's delegation during the state visits to Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar from April 10–16, 2017.[14]

On April 23, 2017, during the opening ceremony of Palarong Pambansa 2017 in San Jose de Buenavista, Antique, President Duterte introduced Cimatu as a new Cabinet member and announced his appointment as Special Envoy for Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) Refugees who is tasked to assist distressed Filipino workers in the Middle East.[14]

Department of Environment and Natural Resources[edit]

Cimatu assumed the leadership of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources on May 8, 2017 when he was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to replace Gina Lopez; his appointment was confirmed on October 4, 2017 by the Commission on Appointments.[15][16] He is the second retired general to head the department after former AFP chief and Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes who was President Arroyo's DENR Secretary from 2006 to 2007.[9] As Environment Secretary, Cimatu said he will be reviewing the mine closures ordered by his predecessor. He said "balancing environmental care and responsible mining can be done". "[15]

The Nickelodeon Theme Park in Coron, which Lopez blocked, was given the green light by Department of Tourism Wanda Teo after a month of Lopez' rejection by the Commission on Appointments.[17][18] Cimatu however, vowed for a thorough inquiry regarding the theme park to ensure the conservation and protection of the area stating 'that we continue to conserve and protect this last bastion of coastal biodiversity in Palawan'. In a statement, Cimatu said he has ordered his department's Biodiversity Management Bureau, Environmental Management Bureau, and MiMaRoPa office "to undertake an inquiry into this proposed plan, so that at the outset we can ensure that we continue to conserve and protect this last bastion of coastal biodiversity in Palawan." [19]

Duterte, satisfied with the Boracay rehabilitation, gave Cimatu a more challenging task of rehabilitating the long-neglected Manila bay and vowed a serious cleanup on Manila Bay coastline which stretches 190 kilo meters across three regions from Cavite in Calabarzon, National Capital Region (NCR) or the Metro Manila area, and Bulacan and Pampanga in Central Luzon. Furthermore, Cimatu stated in a 2019 speech: “In Manila Bay, we have to break down in class SB status the fatal coliform of 330 million spm per 100 ml. of Manila Bay and the required effort to clean and rehabilitate Manila Bay would take around 330 times as that of Boracay,” it indicates that the fatal coliform in Manila bay is far more than what was present in Boracay, despite the overwhelming potential hurdles, the challenge was wholeheartedly accepted by Cimatu stating: “We are in the limelight now of what we want to do with Manila Bay. The President has shown confidence in our competence after what we have done in Boracay,”.[20]

In 2019, Cimatu spearheaded the task of rehabilitating Manila bay, which has been very polluted due to the years of neglect by authorities. Under his leadership, the DENR has begun to inspect establishments near the bay and has given orders for them to put up their own sewage treatment plants. Part of their initiative includes taking water samples of the establishments’ wastewater discharges. [21] The rehabilitation was dubbed "The Battle for Manila Bay" by Cimatu. It began in January 27, 2018 wherein around 5000 people have taken part carrying shovels, broomsticks, and sacks to assist in cleaning up their long-neglected bay. [22]

Personal life[edit]

Cimatu is married to businesswoman Fe Aguillon of Antique with whom he has one son, Dennis, who studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas.[5] His brother, Fidel Cimatu Jr., is the incumbent municipal mayor of their hometown Bangui, Ilocos Norte who also graduated from the Philippine Military Academy in 1977.[23][24]


  1. ^ "Gawad Mabini". Official Gazette (Philippines). Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  2. ^ a b c d e "Sino si Roy Cimatu?". Abante. 10 May 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  3. ^ "Roy Cimatu appointed as new DENR chief". Sun.Star Manila. 8 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h "PROFILE: Cimatu: Arroyo's 'thinking general' returns as Duterte's environment chief". GMA News. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i Romero, P. (10 September 2002). "Defensor assumes top AFP post today". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  6. ^ "Kagitingan: 2014 Philippine Veterans Week" (PDF). Philippine Veterans Affairs Office. April 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  7. ^ Soliven, M.V. (7 December 2001). "Zambo folks enraged at the coddling of the MNLF renegades". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  8. ^ a b Villanueva, M. (7 May 2002). "Arroyo picks Southcom's Cimatu as next AFP chief". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  9. ^ a b Elemia, C.; Ranada, P. (8 May 2017). "Ex-AFP chief Cimatu is new environment secretary". Rappler. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  10. ^ Associated Press (13 July 2004). "Philippines begins early withdrawal from Iraq". USA Today. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  11. ^ "Mutineer loses top soldier award". The Philippine Star. 12 August 2003. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  12. ^ "Executive Order No. 20, s. 2011". Official Gazette (Philippines). Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  13. ^ Cabacungan, G.C. (11 October 2016). "Duterte swears in 124 gov't officials". Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  14. ^ a b Romero, A. (24 April 2017). "Cimatu named envoy for distressed OFWs". The Philippine Star. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  15. ^ a b Reuters (10 May 2017). "Cimatu to balance environmental care and responsible mining". Manila Bulletin. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  16. ^ "Cimatu confirmed as environment chief". ABS CBN News. October 4, 2017. Retrieved October 4, 2017.
  17. ^
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ "Who are the PMA grads in gov't?". 2 July 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
  24. ^ Bombo Radyo Laoag (9 May 2017). "Kaanak ni Cimatu, ninerbyos matapos malamang itinalaga ito ni Duterte bilang DENR secretary". Bombo Radyo Philippines. Retrieved 10 May 2017.
Military offices
Preceded by
Diomedio Villanueva
Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines
Succeeded by
Benjamin Defensor Jr.
Political offices
Preceded by
Gina Lopez
Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources
Order of precedence
Preceded by
John R. Castriciones
as Secretary of Agrarian Reform
Order of Precedence of the Philippines
as Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources
Succeeded by
Eduardo Año
as Secretary of Interior and Local Government