Roy Agullana Cimatu (born July 4, 1946) is a retired Philippine Army general and a government official who has held various positions. He is the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources as of May 2017, serving in the cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte. He was the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines from May to September 2002 under President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo. Following his retirement from the military, Arroyo appointed Cimatu to the position of special envoy to the Middle East during the Iraq War.
Early life and education
Roy Cimatu was born on 4 July 1946 in Bangui, Ilocos Norte to war veteran Fidel Magarro Cimatu Sr. and public school teacher Clara Agullana. He attended Bangui Elementary School Bangui National High School.
Cimatu initially studied engineering, at the National University in Manila. After two years, he took the entrance exam for the Philippine Military Academy and passed. He graduated from the academy in 1970 at the top of his class. He then attended the Aerostar Flying School to become a certified helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft pilot. He also underwent training the United States Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas, United States.
Cimatu earned a master's degree in business administration from Ateneo de Manila University.
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP)
Cimatu’s first assignment as a soldier was in Cotabato in 1970. He was a platoon leader and executive officer.
Between 1999 and 2001, during Cimatu’s time as commander of the 4th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army based in Cagayan de Oro, most of the 46 camps of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front in Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao were captured by the army. In 2001, Cimatu became commanding general of the then Zamboanga-based Armed Forces of the Philippines Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), now AFP Western Mindanao Command.
In May 2002, Cimatu was appointed chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines by President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. She cited his accomplishments in his 36 years of military service. During his stint as AFP chief, Abu Sayyaf leader Abu Sabaya was killed in the AFP’s Operation Endgame in Sulu. Cimatu retired from the AFP not long after, on September 10, 2002.
After his retirement, Cimatu was alleged by former AFP budget officer Col. George Rabusa of receiving send-off money as a former AFP chief of staff. At the Senate hearing on the 2011 Armed Forces of the Philippines corruption scandal, Rabusa said Cimatu, along with other retired AFP including Diomedio Villanueva and Angelo Reyes, received at least ₱50 million each as send-off money. In June 2011, plunder charges were filed by the Department of Justiceagainst Cimatu and other high-ranking AFP officials for allegedly amassng ill-gotten wealth through the conversion of military funds. In April 2013, the Office of the Ombudsman recommended the dismissal of the charges, citing a lack of evidence.
President Arroyo tasked Cimatu to be the special envoy to the Middle East and head of the Middle East Preparedness Team after his retirement in 2002, during the Iraq War. His responsibilities included ensuring the safety of overseas Filipino workers in the war-torn country. Cimatu held the position under Arroyo until the end of her term in 2010 and under President Benigno Simeon Aquino III until June 2011.
Cimatu once again became special envoy to the Middle East in October 2016 under President Rodrigo Duterte.
Department of Environment and Natural Resources
After being appointed by President Duterte, Cimatu became the secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on 8 May 2017, replacing Gina Lopez. He is the second former AFP chief to become secretary of the DENR after Angelo Reyes, who held the position from 2006 to 2007, during President Arroyo’s term. Upon his appointment, Cimatu said he would be reviewing the decision of his predecessor to stop certain mining firms from operating. He said, "Balancing environmental care and responsible mining can be done". "
Led by Cimatu, the DENR mounted a campaign to rehabilitate Manila Bay in 2019. It ordered establishments near the bay to set up their own sewage treatment plants. As part of the project, the department also filled the shoreline of Manila Bay with crushed dolomite, beginning in September 2020 and refilled periodically after. The decision has been met with criticism from the public and scientists alike, who raised concerns about the timing of the project given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the environmental impact of the pouring of the mineral on the shore and its removal from the mountains of Alcoy town in Cebu, and the “wasted” funds spent on the project given that much of the dolomite poured onto Manila Bay has already been washed into the sea.
Cimatu was married to businesswoman Fe Aguillon of Antique with whom he has one son, Dennis, who studied architecture at the University of Santo Tomas. Aguillon-Cimatu died on 20 February 2021. 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.
- https://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/212159/ex-afp-chiefs-received-p160-m-pabaon-says-witness/story/ GMA Network. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
- https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1419596/use-manila-bay-dolomite-project-funds-for-covid-19-response-says-group Philippine Daily Inqquirer. Retrieved July 26, 2021
- https://iesm.science.upd.edu.ph/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/Manila-Bay-Statement_IESM_29Spe20-final.pdf University of the Philippines Institute of Biology Statement Regarding Dolomite in Manila Bay. Retrieved July 26, 2021.
- https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1434810/oceana-dolomite-used-to-beautify-manila-bay-now-in-the-sea Philippine Daily Inquirer. Retrieved July 26, 2021
- Romero, P.. "Defensor assumes top AFP post today", The Philippine Star, 10 September 2002.
- Vicente, Jonathan. "The woman behind the decorated general", Philippine Daily Inquirer, February 26, 2021.
- "Who are the PMA grads in gov't?", ABS-CBN News, 2 July 2013.