DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Various environmental groups here called on the Commission on Appointment to confirm the appointment of Environment Secretary-designate Regina Paz Lopez.
In an show of force, hundreds of students, teachers, and environmental advocates gathered along Roxas Avenue in front of the Atene De Davao University on Wednesday afternoon for a program to drum up support for the embattled Lopez.
Support groups, including Bagong Alyansang Makabayan, Gabriela Davao, Philippine Eagle Foundation, Masipag, and several indigenous peoples joined the public protest action dubbed “Kumpirma: People’s Confirmation of Sec. Gina Lopez.”
Wednesday’s event was led by the Ateneo de Davao University’s University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council and Sustainable Davao Movement.
In his message, AdDU School President Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ said it is only now that the Department of Environment and Natural Resources has a leader who is “passionate about the environment.”
“Whenever we had problems with the mines, whenever we had problems with pollution. Whenever we had problems with people sinning against the environment and we would go to the DENR normally, the DENR would not listen, the DENR would not care,” Tabora said.
He said the DENR “was a department that exploited the natural resources for the gain of the few and the enrichment of the few.”
“We ask the Commission on Appointment to confirm her because this is the will of the people, this is what is necessary for the environment,” Tabora added.
Mining companies filed their opposition against Lopez’ appointment after she ordered the closure of 23 mines and the suspension of five others. She also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements in watersheds, 37 of which are in Mindanao.
Atty. Romeo Cabarde, chair of the Ateneo de Davao University’s University Community Engagement and Advocacy Council called on President Rodrigo Duterte to sustain the issuance of Lopez.
“Kabalo ta ang iyang saad sa katawhang Pilipino, niingon siya nga ‘Change is Coming. Usa sa mga dakong kabagohan nga atong nakit-an diha sa sulod sa DENR sa pag-appoint niya kay Gina Lopez (We know that the President promised that “Change is Coming” and one of the big changes we saw under his administration is when he appointed Gina Lopez in DENR),” Cabarde said.
“Unta barugan sa atong president ang decision ni Sec. Lopez (We hope the President will stand with the decision of Sec. Lopez),” he added.
Cabarde also hit mining companies saying the mining industry has not given significant contribution to the country’s economy.
“Enough with the lies. We know what you have been doing to our natural resources and our indigenous peoples. Please do not equate investment with the benefit. Only a pittance goes to your Filipino people. Stop the lies,” he said. (davaotoday.com)