PRESIDENT Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has installed a new secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the person of Horacio Ramos.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita made the announcement at a briefing conducted at Paradise Resort in Malolos, Bulacan on Wednesday.

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Ramos, the former director of the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB), will replace Eleazar Quinto who headed the DENR for several months since Lito Atienza resigned December 2009.

Ermita refused to comment whether the replacement of Quinto was due to his issue with DENR employees, saying that the President has the prerogative to make appointments based on her assessment.

Several DENR employees complained about Quinto for hiring consultants and for implementing revamp within the agency.

“The (DENR) department is a major department and all I can say is that, you know, the changes in the Cabinet or, for that matter, any agency in government is upon the assessments made by the President. All members of Cabinets serve at the pleasure of the President. She alone would know her own criteria for choosing people who should be in what position,” Ermita explained.

Ramos is a graduate of Mapua Institute of Technology and among the very few mining economists in the country who honed skills at the University of New South Wales.

He has been serving the government for four decades. He was appointed as MGB national director in March 1996 up to this date making him one of the longest occupants of the position.

Ramos assumed his directorship in what was considered as most challenged year for the MGB defined by the infamous tailings spill incident, which resulted in increasing opposition to the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 and to mining as a whole. Despite this, he was able to shepherd MGB in its trying years.

The environment chief is one of the acknowledged architects of the current Revitalization Program for the Philippine Minerals Industry pursuant to the President's policy pronouncement on mining in 2003.

He is also one of the primary exponents of responsible and sustainable mineral resources development in the country, a passion and an advocacy that he has been pursuing in his quest for a pro-people, pro-environment mineral industry.

Quinto meanwhile was re-assigned to the Office of Political Coalition Affairs, which was vacated by Maricor Imperial.

This, after President Arroyo appointed Imperial as Cabinet Secretary in the Office of the President.

Imperal replaced Lakas-Kampi senatorial candidate Silvestre Bello III, who rendered his resignation to focus on his candidacy as the campaign period officially started Tuesday. (Jill Beltran/Sunnex)