Environment advocates gear up for pro-Lopez nationwide action

ENVIRONMENT advocates are gearing up for a nationwide mobilization in support of Environment Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez, whose appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA) Wednesday, May 3.

Greenpeace Philippines climate and energy campaigner Reubin Muni, who is currently in Bacolod City for various engagements, told SunStar Bacolod Thursday they are holding consultations with other environment groups, including those in Negros, especially the members of Green Thumb Coalition, to drum up massive support action for Lopez.

Muni said the mobilization is a means of showing their frustration to the “unjust” rejection of her appointment due to seemingly coordinated efforts of the “blocking” members of the House of Representatives influenced by “man in power.”

“We are now gathering forces across the country to strongly voice out our disgust and disappointment over the refusal to confirm (Lopez’s appointment),” he said, adding that “the action is already a sure thing, we just need to decide when is the best time to do it.”

Lopez is the second appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte whose appointment was rejected by the CA, following Perfecto Yasay as Foreign Affairs chief.

Although he expressed support to Lopez Senator Manny Pacquiao, as chair of CA environment committee, had to move to reject Lopez’s appointment as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Majority of the panel members voted to reject Lopez's appointment as they expressed concern over her alleged arbitrary and illegal directives at the agency, Pacquiao said.

For Greenpeace, a non-government organization working on the promotion of social reforms including agriculture and environment, Lopez’s rejection is a setback for the government especially the DENR.

Muni cited that in a very short time, Lopez was able to institute reforms which the previous administration failed to do.

The rehabilitation of areas affected by mining operations is just one of the reforms initiated by Lopez with positive impact to the environment, he said.

“Despite the little chance of reversing the decision of the CA, we will still work on utilizing creative means to bridge the fine lines,” Muni said, adding that through the support action, the group is optimistic to create awareness among the Filipinos.

Greenpeace Southeast Asia executive director Yeb Saño said the rejection of Lopez is a rejection of change.

Saño said it’s very disappointing and worrying, and shows how destructive industries continue to hold Philippine lawmakers by their necks.

“We thought that this administration is serious in implementing change by appointing a true environmentalist in the DENR,” he added.

Lopez said she is willing to accept the decision of the CA as she maintained that her decisions on various issues have legal basis.

Lopez said she is not surprised at all at the rejection, adding that unseen yet powerful hands from the business sector are the ones calling the shots.

She also maintained that her strong convictions against the elite miners are only meant to protect the Filipino people and the next generation. (With reports from SunStar Philippines)


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