MANILA, Philippines — News that former Manila mayor Lito Atienza has been appointed as the new Environment Secretary came as a shock to environment groups on Wednesday.
“It’s incredible. This would be a disaster for the whole country because
his track record on environment compliance leaves much to be desired,” said Regina Paterno, president of Winner Foundation, a non-government organization that runs the Arroceros Forest Park in Manila.
“The President’s appointments — (Commission on Elections chair Benjamin) Abalos, (retired general Jovito) Palparan, and now Atienza — cast a serious doubt on the motives of her leadership,” added Chit Paterno, also a member of Winner.
“After our experience with Atienza in Arroceros Park, that’s just a tiny city forest. But what about tomorrow, the whole country’s natural resources?”
The forest park was closed to the public after Atienza converted part of it into the City Schools Division office.
The environmental group, which was designated caretaker of the 2.2-hectare forest park in a 1993 memorandum of agreement with then Mayor Alfredo Lim, had protested the park’s conversion and filed a preliminary injunction case at the Manila Regional Trial Court.
The case is awaiting resolution.
However, the forest park was reopened to the public as soon as Lim assumed office last July 1.