by Lilybeth G. Ison, Philippine News Agency | Wednesday, 22 June 2016
Despite her stand against mining, stakeholders welcomed the appointment of Gina Lopez as Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Oceana Gold Chairman Jose Leviste Jr., in a statement on Wednesday, said he welcomed and supported the mining policies of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte, which he announced Tuesday during the economic summit in Davao City.
“We also engage with DENR Secretary designate Gina Lopez to promote “environmentally sensitive and responsive mining,” he said.
“We welcome and support a balanced policy between environmental protection and resource development,” he added.
Philippine Mining Safety and Environment Association (PMSEA) President Louie Sarmiento, for his part, also welcomed the appointment of Lopez, who is known as a champion of environmental cause, as DENR chief.
“We welcome an environmental advocate to head the DENR and we share her desire to support responsible mining and at the same time, rid the industry of illegal and irresponsible miners,” said Sarmiento in a text message.
“I am hopeful she (Lopez) will be balance in her decisions because she will be looking not only of environment which we are all committed and passionate about, but also the wise utilization of our natural resources she being the DENR Secretary,” he added.
Gerard Brimo, president and CEO of Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC), said that the incoming President had made clear his policy in support of responsible mining.
“All our mining operations are ISO compliant for environmental management systems and are world class,” he noted.
Brimo congratulated incoming DENR Secretary Lopez, saying they would work with her to promote responsible mining.
Lopez on Tuesday night explained why she was against mining.
“Mining has a pathetic track record. Pathetic. Wherever there’s mining, the people are poor. So why are we doing it? It’s crazy,” said Lopez in an interview with the media.
“For me, large scale, small scale, it’s just, when you destroy the environment and you cause suffering to our rivers and streams, our agricultural land, our fishery resource, you kill everything. Is it worth it?” she noted.
Meanwhile, ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation expressed its support for its chairman.
In a statement, the Foundation said Lopez’s accomplishments prove her dedication and passion to protect the environment.
“Gina Lopez’s laudable and pioneering efforts in rehabilitating the La Mesa Watershed, in restoring the Pasig River through cleaning the esteros and in launching the ecotourism sites in the 13 provinces all over the archipelago are testament to her dedication and passion to protect, conserve and promote the environment,” it said.
The Foundation also wishes Lopez luck in her new role as DENR secretary, and hopes that her term will yield positive effects on the environment.
“We wish our Chairman the best as she leads the DENR in the next six years in bringing about positive change towards the management, conservation and the utilization of our environment and natural resources to support the country’s sustainable and inclusive development,” it said.
Manny Pangilinan, chairman of Philex Mining, said he respected the decision of the incoming President to choose Lopez to head the environment department.
“The elephant in the room is Gina Lopez, I apologize for the comparison, but let me say this, it’s entirely the prerogative of the President and we respect that,” he said.
He added that there was a need to push for responsible mining to help boost local exports, and benefit the economy.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) earlier stressed the need for a DENR Secretary who has “a solid background in the intricacies of natural resources management, and someone who is able to balance economic growth and the needs of the people with that of environmental protection, the protection of indigenous communities, and society.”
It also remained optimistic that President-elect Duterte would listen to their appeal, reiterating the group’s continuing advocacy for responsible mining.
“The Chamber is committed to work with the incoming administration to help address concerns in the industry so that we may promote true inclusive growth around the country,” said COMP spokesperson May Anne Cacdac.
Cacdac said that the mining industry could help bring hard investments to the countryside, and help achieve inclusive growth in line with Duterte’s 10-point economic agenda.
Health Care Without Harm-Asia also expressed its support for Lopez’s appointment as DENR Secretary, given her strong and consistent track record in advancing clean air, clean energy and climate change mitigation issues.
“Gina Lopez is a dynamic leader and champion of environmental causes and has helped the environmental network in the Philippines to bring our issues to the forefront,” said Health Care Without Harm – Asia Director Ramon San Pascual.
“We believe that under her leadership, there will be greater efforts within DENR to link public health with environmental health, including air pollution caused by dirty coal,” he said.
San Pascual said that Lopez’s appointment and her firm stand against coal and mining “will give a strong boost to the environmental and climate justice movement in the country.” (PNA)