72-year-old artist walks 28 kms to support DENR secretary

A 72-YEAR-OLD artist and volunteer forest guard walked 28 kilometers to push for the official confirmation of Gina Lopez as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources secretary.

Environmentalist Ric Obenza said he was very energized to do the walk to push his advocacy.

"Mao rani ang akong makaya buhaton (This is the only thing I can contribute)," Obenza said.

He said government agencies have no clear programs to protect the environment and are easily swayed by the promise of money.

Obenza said that he is campaigning for Lopez because many powerful people are against her.

"Kini ginababagan sa tao na nabayaran, so daghan man sila (This appointment is opposed by people who have been corrupted, there are many of them)," he said.

He said that ordinary people can show their support in their small way.

"Dili kinahanglan ug buhat na dinagko, kutob sa makaya namo (You don't have to launch a big campaign. We just do what we can)," he said.

Obenza said he believes he is not alone in his belief.

He said he felt that God was with him in his walk when the trees he planted in Calinan, the ipil-ipil trees and dita trees, were in bloom on Wednesday, March 1.

"Nagtuo ko nga dili ordinaryo ang nagtabang kanako (I believe that what is helping me is not ordinary)," he added. "I saw it as a sign that I should continue my advocacy."

He added he just came out from the hospital last February 8 because of an illness.

But the night before he walked, he felt a different surge of energy as he visualized what he will do.

He said that since 1970, he spearheaded many reforestation projects.

Obenza said that he planted trees in Calinan district, and also in areas of North Cotabato.

He is not alone in the fight to have Lopez confirmed as the DENR secretary as 25 organizations launched Wednesday, March 1, a program to support Lopez.

The group composed mainly of environmentalists, academe, and the civil society organizations made a ceremonial confirmation of the appointment of the secretary, through people's approval, Wednesday.

Ateneo de Davao president Father Joel Tabora was among the speakers at the event held Wednesday afternoon in front of the Ateneo de Davao University.


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