There’s been a lot of talk surrounding the appointment of Gina Lopez as DENR secretary. During her hearing earlier at the Commission on Appointments, she was found unfit for the position. This is despite the fact that she’s doing ample measures to preserve the Philippines’ natural resources.
The Environment secretary recently ordered the closure of 23 mines in Mindanao and the cancellation of 75 mining contracts. This is a good move on Lopez’s part as mountains are being harmed with expanse mining. She even called out San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora for his brother’s involvement in “killing a mountain.” Even the rivers are being contaminated by mine tailings.
This begs the question: why was she deemed unfit for the job? Opposing parties labeled Lopez as “incompetent” and “has inadequate technical and scientific knowledge to lead an agency.” A possible graft and corruption case was also brought up after she pressured an Energy official to “fast track” a solar farm deal. This is also on top of accusations that she ordered closures without due process.
Lopez is a long-time environmentalist who’s worked in the DENR for a year and a half now. In the past, she’s pushed for the closure of illegal quarrying operations in Mt. Banahaw, dismantled illegal structures in Laguna Lake, and stopped illegal loggers. Does that sound like incompetency?
She defended herself, saying that she followed every step to stop the mining operations. “There were violations… People have suffered,” she said. “I’m looking here for an economy where everyone will benefit… Use land in a way that assures our future. Why does it have to be gold and minerals and whatever? Why not look at biodiversity, ecotourism?”
With all that said, it’s still unclear whether Lopez is really unfit for the job or the CA has an underlying motive for the decision. She did challenge a multi-billion enterprise after all. Her plans and ideals can obviously do wonders for our environment and natural resources. Isn’t that what the DENR should safeguard in the first place? If so, shouldn’t she be given a chance?
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net