DEPARTMENT of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez said she will push for mangrove and bamboo planting in Negros Occidental.
Lopez, who inspected the closed mine site in Sipalay City on Tuesday, said the DENR will do an area development for the province, which will be implemented this year.
She said the program, which will help the host community, will also guarantee residents an income.
The DENR chief said there is a need for more mangroves because an area without mangroves suffers more damage in terms of property and lives during typhoons and calamities.
Lopez also cited the importance of planting bamboo, which is good in carbon sequestration. It is also a low-cost material for housing, she added.
“We will work with Negros. We will make sure,” she said.
She said DENR wants to work with the Negrenses “to lift this (province) up and “make this a great, big, magnificent economic zone.”
Lopez added that she loves the Negrenses because they are “so sweet, and so nice.”
Lopez presented an alternative livelihood program to some residents in Sipalay City who attended the mining forum the other day.
She said that DENR will kick-start ecotourism projects as long as the residents and the local government are committed to the program.
Meeting with CPP-NPA leader
In Dumaguete City, Lopez said she wants to meet with the leader of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) in Negros.
Lopez asked Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo, a consultant of the CPP-NPA-National Democratic Front peace panel, to facilitate the meeting with Frank Fernandez.
She reiterated her pronouncements to work with the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines to protect the environment, adding if social justice on the ground would be addressed there won't be any fighting.
“Maraming pera ang gobyerno, gamitin natin sa mabuting paraan” (the government has plenty of money; let's use it wisely), she explained Tuesday afternoon during her visit.
Ocampo joined Lopez on her visits to Basay and Sipalay in southern Negros to inspect the state of two mining sites there.
For his part, Ocampo told reporters members of the Commission on Appointments should forget about their personal and economic interests and consider the welfare of the country.
He said Lopez had the background and experience in addressing poverty through care of the environment, especially on the impact of mining.
Ocampo added that the NPAs have been guardians of the natural resources but the intrusion of mining has driven them out from their respective areas.
Lopez said that when the poor suffers the most with the destruction of the environment. (With reports from PNA)
Published in the SunStar Bacolod newspaper on April 27, 2017.
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