By Ellalyn De Vera-Ruiz
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) and the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission (PRRC) have expressed how uncompromising Gina Lopez was when she led these agencies for the sake of the environment and the future generations.
“Gina was a pure champion of the environment, bold and fearless in her advocacies, regardless of the consequences,” DENR Secretary Roy Cimatu, who succeeded Lopez as chief of the agency, said.
“She was uncompromising in protecting watersheds and imposing high standards of responsibility on the mining industry.”
During her stint as DENR Secretary from June 2016 to May 2017, Lopez ordered the closure or suspension of mining firms due to serious environmental violations.
She also had plans to scrap mineral production sharing agreements with mining companies operating within or near watershed areas.
Likewise, Lopez came out with an administrative order requiring suspended mining companies to set aside ₱2 million per hectare of “disturbed land” for farmers before they are allowed to transport their stockpiles. She also imposed a ban on prospective open-pit mining.
Cimatu said Lopez has been always compassionate for the underprivileged, and for them promoted ecotourism as a way out of poverty.
“She was an inspiration to many, a personification of our hopes for a sustainably greener environment with bountiful natural resources for all,” Cimatu said. “The DENR family will remember her fondness, respect, and love. We will honor her by building on her legacy.”
Lopez also served as the chairperson of the PRRC, under the Office of the President, from 2009 to 2016 and led countless projects for the revival of the Pasig River and its environs.
She initiated the expansion of the rehabilitation of Pasig River into its tributaries by recovering and developing waterways into environmental preservation areas which led to the improvement of the river system’s water quality.
She also introduced several projects, programs, and activities for the maintenance and sustainability of the rehabilitation efforts, most notably the creation of the “river warriors.”
PRRC attributed Lopez’s works which steered to the Pasig River’s winning the inaugural Asia Riverprize in 2018 for the inspiring initiatives to save and protect the historic river.
“She was a great leader, an inspiring mentor, a loving friend, and a colleague full of character to the PRRC,” the agency said.
“Her noble efforts to save the environment transcend to protect and improve the lives of the people, the youth, and the disadvantaged and have contributed immensely to nation-building,” it added.
PRRC assured that they will keep Lopez’s legacy of bringing the Pasig River back to life which “will continue as our life-long advocacy and commitment to the environment.”
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