The Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC) along with its grassroots partner Movement for the Protection of Livelihood, Environment and People’s Safety in Zambales (MOVE NOW! Zambales) strongly condemn the Commission on Appointments’ rejection of Ms. Regina Paz Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“This is a lost opportunity to work with a government official who walks her talk. Secretary Gina stood up against large-scale mining operations and its negative impacts to the environment and the people. She also believes in social justice and that the people should benefit from the country’s natural resources,” explained Owen Migraso, Executive Director of CEC.
Secretary Gina Lopez led the mining audit last year until announcing to public early this year the suspension and closure orders to big mines operating in environmentally-critical areas and had showed negative impacts to the surrounding communities. “The audit results was a victory for the people and the communities who have long suffered the negative impacts of mining—from displacements, and contamination of their agricultural lands and bodies of water,” added Migraso.
“We applaud DENR’s decision to close the big mines. Negative impacts of mining in our town in Sta. Cruz, Zambales were seen during Typhoon Lando in 2015 where there were landslides and red flood that washed away our farmlands and homes,” narrated Cristeta Sison, Chairperson of MOVE NOW! Zambales.
The CEC and MOVE NOW! Zambales sees the CA’s rejection of Ms Gina Lopez for the DENR post as a maneuver of the big mining corporations so they can continue their extractive and destructive operations in the country’s mineral-rich areas. Indeed, what has prevailed in the CA decision is the corporate and profit-oriented interests of the country’s ruling elite.
Rest assured that the fight against large-scale destructive mining will not end here. Secretary Lopez’ advocacy will continue as well as the people’s clamor for change and the hope to transform the country’s natural resources as basis for development and national industrialization.