Environmental groups back Gina Lopez | SunStar

Environmental groups back Gina Lopez

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Environmental groups back Gina Lopez

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

CEBU. Cebu environment advocate groups signed a position paper supporting the confirmation of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s appointment. They met in the University of San Carlos College of Law Building. (Alex Badayos)

CLOSE to 20 environmental groups and advocates in Cebu gathered yesterday to push for the confirmation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary-designate Regina “Gina” Paz Lopez.

Some 3,000 anti-mining advocates gathered at the Senate main gate in Pasay City to show their support for the DENR chief who was supposed to have her confirmation hearing yesterday.

The hearing was postponed by the Commission on Appointments (CA) following the reorganization at the Senate.

In Cebu City, non-government organizations and the academe drafted a unified position paper, expressing their support for Lopez, whom they described as a “champion of the environment.”

“We call on the government to support the appointment of leaders who are strong enough in their resolve of protecting the environment and carrying out the very mandate of the institution they are assigned to,” reads a portion of the paper.

Victor Sumampong Jr. of Sanlakas party-list said Lopez has their full support.

Last month, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining operations and suspended five others to protect watersheds. She also canceled 75 mining contracts.

Sumampong, who previously worked for a mining company, said Lopez was “on the right track” for opposing the activity.

“Mining not only endangers lives, but also destroys the environment. Its share of the gross domestic product is less than one percent, so why do we compromise lives for something that doesn’t even really help the economy?” he said.

University of San Carlos Political Science Department head Prof. Grace Bualat, for her part, encouraged the public to speak up and work together in demanding a “leader with a heart.”

Should the CA decide not to grant Lopez her confirmation, the groups hope that the next DENR secretary will “not take the environment office as a business.” At least 17 expressions of opposition to Secretary Lopez’s confirmation have been filed before the CA.

Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on March 02, 2017.

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