Tributes pour for environment champion Gina Lopez

Tributes pour for environment champion Gina Lopez

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY—Tributes from activists and government officials poured on Monday (Aug. 19) for former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez who died of brain cancer.

Most paid homage to her as a crusader for the environment for which she was at loggerheads with powerful interests when she joined the original Cabinet of President Rodrigo Duterte.

She was eventually rejected by the Commission on Appointments, populated by legislators with mining interests or close to mining operators. Duterte did not reappoint her following her rejection by the body.

Sen. Christopher “Bong” Go paid tribute to Lopez, pointing to her “exceptional dedication” to protecting the environment.

“As a former colleague in the government, I know how passionate, dedicated and humble she was as a public servant and as an Earth warrior,” Go said in a statement.

Sen. Ralph Recto referred to Lopez as “a lifelong warrior for Mother Earth.”

Aside from her environmental protection work, Lopez also launched in 1997 the Bantay Batay 163 as a platform for child welfare and protection.

“The best way to honor her is to heed what she tried to teach us,” Recto said.

The partylist group Anakpawis honored Lopez for her steadfast fight “against destructive mining, reclamation and other activities driven by profit that have negatively affected not only the environment but also the communities.”

As environment chief, Lopez ordered the closure of mining operations that violated environmental regulations and recommended the cancellation of several other mining contracts.

“Her holistic approach, not only advocating a genuine pro-environment policy but also a deep concern on communities, further made her close to the people,” said former Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao.

EcoWaste Coalition national coordinator Aileen Lucero lauded Lopez for taking on “powerful mining companies and bravely fighting for our threatened ecosystems and communities and for our common future.” Ryan Rosauro and Jigger Jerusalem/TSB