DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Local artist and 70-year old forest guard Ric Obenza walked some 35 kilometers from Calinan District to Roxas Avenue here on Wednesday as he joined calls for the confirmation of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez as the Department of Environment and Natural Resources chief.
Obenza started walking the distance at around 4 a.m. In a Facebook live interview by journalist Karlos Manlupig, Obenza said he did it to show people the value of sacrifice.
“I want to show to the people that sometimes we have to sacrifice a little. Sometimes we have to walk because there is too much smoke, pollution from motor vehicles. People are getting sick. Maybe sometimes we have to refrain from riding motor vehicles for nature’s sake. That is one,” Obenza said.
Obenza said Lopez ”needs to continue what she started because the closure of mining companies should have happened a long time ago.”
“She should be confirmed to continue what she has started so that [mining] can be minimized, if not totally stopped. Other [mining companies] just dug the ground, and when the minerals have been extracted, they vacate. Filipinos do not have anywhere else to go. The places that capitalists mine now look like graves,” Obenza pointed out.
Obenza agreed with Lopez claims saying that the it is only the mining industry that enjoy the benefits more than the Filipinos.
“If you pursue mining and it is the [other countries] who would benefit, better stop it. Maybe if it’s for the Filipinos, where our minerals would go to us, maybe that’s okay. But what’s happening is, the moment you dig the ground, it’s gone, damaged,” Obenza said.
He said miners are also paid measly while “the capitalists, meanwhile haul it all off in sacks upon sacks.”
Obenza later joined the pro-Lopez public rally in front of the Ateneo De Davao University dubbed as “Kumpirma: People’s Confirmation of Sec. Gina Lopez.”
Lopez came under fire from mining industry players after she ordered the closure of 75 mining operations in the country, majority of which are operating in Mindanao.
The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines expressed its opposition for Lopez’s confirmation in the Commission on Appointments. (davaotoday.com)