LOCAL officials in Cebu praised Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez for her advocacies, including her love for the environment.
The former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) succumbed to multiple organ failure on Monday, Aug. 19, 2019, in Manila.
Lopez was a passionate “champion” of environmental protection, according to Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia.
In Cebu, Lopez was instrumental in the closure of the Inayawan landfill in 2016 for violating laws.
“We would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the bereaved family of former secretary Gina Lopez. I believe that she was gone too soon, and as one passionate advocate for the environment, we have lost a champion,” Garcia said.
Garcia and Lopez had not worked together before. While Lopez served as DENR secretary from June 2016 to May 2017, Garcia was on her second term as congresswoman of Cebu’s third district.
The two women, though, shared the same concern for environmental protection and conservation.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella described Lopez as one of the pillars of environmental preservation.
“I hope that the legacy she has left behind, especially in the fight against indiscriminate logging and mining should be taken into consideration, not only by the officials of government, but also by those who are engaging in these businesses,” he said.
During her stint as DENR secretary, Lopez made headlines for shutting down mining operations that were found to have violated environmental laws.
Garcia is also concerned with Cebu’s natural resources. After assuming office last June 30, she issued Memorandum Circular 4-2019, which aims to put a stop to the “unabated” illegal quarrying activities and prevent the “further degradation” of the environment which may lead to calamities, destruction of properties and loss of lives.
“(I have) not particularly (worked with her) because when she became the secretary of DENR, I was already in Congress. I know that she was very passionate about the Inayawan Sanitary Landfill (in Cebu City). She herself came to inspect it,” Garcia said.
Calling it an “environmental bombshell,” Lopez had recommended the closure of Cebu City’s landfill in Barangay Inayawan after she saw that garbage dumped at the site has reached the sea.
“I cheered her when she realized that this was an open dumpsite on a reclaimed lot. I cheered her on, reading about it,” Garcia said.
A “big loss for the environment” was how Councilor Joel Garganera described Lopez’s passing.
“I would say that it is a very sad day for the environment, especially in Cebu,” he said.
Garganera filed the Writ of Kalikasan before the Court of Appeals (CA) against former Mayor Tomas Osmeña and other respondents to close the landfill in Inayawan. The councilor said the foul smell coming from the landfill reportedly reached some villages in Talisay City and coastal areas in Cebu City.
Garganera won the case when the CA granted the writ. The Supreme Court later upheld the decision. (RTF/from PAC of Superbalita Cebu/KAL)