Gina Lopez's one regret? Rejection as DENR chief, says ex-Cabinet official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 20 2019 10:41 AM | Updated as of Aug 20 2019 12:20 PM

DENR Sec. Gina Lopez answers questions during a press conference at the DENR Headquarters in Quezon City on September 4, 2017. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Philanthropist Gina Lopez had felt she could have done more for the environment had she retained her government post, former social welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo said Tuesday.

Lopez, who served 10 months as President Rodrigo Duterte’s first environment secretary, shut down mining operations that violated laws before her appointment was rejected by lawmakers in 2017. She passed away on Monday due to multiple organ failure.

"Sabi n'ya (Lopez), nanghinayang s'ya kasi maraming pera ang [Department of Environment and Natural Resources]. She could have done so much more para maproteksyunan ang environment and to really develop alternative, hindi extractive, means to develop our environment," said Taguiwalo.

"Iyun lang ang regret n'ya," she added, recalling a conversation with Lopez at her house sometime after they were both rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

(She said, she regrets it because the DENR had lots of funds. She could have done so much more to protect the environment and to really develop alternative, not extractive, means to develop our environment. That was her only regret.)

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In a speech after failing to get the CA's approval, Lopez said she and her team had "planned many things... dreamed of partnerships."

"I was excited kasi may pera ang pamahalaan, may pera ang DENR and I wanted to use that money to create models na pwedeng-pwede alisin ang kahirapan dito sa bansa," she told reporters.

(I was excited because the government had money, the DENR had money and I wanted to use that money to create models that could curb poverty in the country.)

"It is very sad that in the Commission on Appointments, business interests have run the day," she added.

Lopez's supporters should continue her fight for the environment, said Taguiwalo.

"Sa pagluksa natin kay Gina, mahalaga na may paglaban din, ipagpatuloy iyung pag-champion n'ya sa environment at more than the environment, ang pag-link niya nito sa mga mamamayan, lalo na sa mga katutubo," she said.

(In mourning for Gina, it's important that the fight is still there, that we continue her championing of the environment and more than the environment, the way she links it to the people, especially the indigenous tribes.)
 
In lieu of flowers and mass cards for Lopez, her family requests that donations be made to the ABS-CBN Foundation. There will be a public viewing at the La Mesa Eco Park on Aug. 22 to 23.