FORMER Environment secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez, 65, has passed away after battling brain cancer.
Her demise on Monday, August 19, was confirmed by media outlet ABS-CBN News in a statement.
Lopez, an environmentalist, was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in June 2016.
The Commission on Appointments, however, rejected her ad interim appointment as Environment chief in May 2017.
She had also served as long-time chairperson of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.
In a separate statement, Malacañang offered its sympathies and condolences to the Lopez family.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said the Palace "deeply grieves" the passing of Duterte's "most passionate Cabinet member whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day."
"News has reached the Office of the President that former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Regina Paz L. Lopez has passed, and it is with a heavy heart that we express our sincerest condolences to her family, relatives, friends and loved ones," he said.
"She would be greatly missed," Panelo added.
Panelo acknowledged that Lopez "took the bull by the horns when she fiercely fought powerful interests in the mining sector, as well as in industries having negative effect on our ecology."
"As we pay tribute and give honor to this warrior and advocate, we fervently pray for the Almighty to grant her eternal repose. May the perpetual light shine upon her," the Palace official said. (SunStar Philippines)