By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara on Monday said that the death of former Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez brought to mind that her selfless work as a philanthropist and activist was that of a “confirmed environment secretary of the people.”
Lopez, whose appointment as chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA), passed away on Monday at the age of 65. She succumbed to brain cancer.
“By her selfless works, Gina’s work was the confirmed environment secretary of the people, the minister for sustainable development, and the ambassador for children’s rights,” Angara said in a statement.
“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the margins of society,” the senator added.
President Rodrigo Duterte appointed Lopez as DENR secretary in 2016, but her stint was cut short when the CA rejected her appointment in 2017.
During her stint, Lopez cancelled the contracts of 75 mining companies. At least 12 of the oppositions filed before the CA against her were related to her order closing and suspending mining operations.
Angara said Lopez “fought for children who were incapable of seeking justice and care for themselves and eloquently spoke for the people in the communities whose voices have been crushed by exploitation.”
“She even took it upon herself to represent a constituency that cannot vote – trees, fish, rivers and wildlife – because she correctly believed that our continued existence and that of our children is dependent on theirs,” he said.
“Gina did not preach what she did not practice. She was not a Powerpoint crusader but a living example of how to live a life that will not bankrupt earth’s resources to support us,” added the senator.
Angara said Lopez, likewise, proved to be a “one-person green warrior” who took the fight in “boardrooms, chat rooms, government offices and her favorite office—out in the open under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on.”
“In the last years of her life, she produced a travelogue, of the sublime kind, because it did not only transport us to the beautiful places in our country, but gave us a lesson on the importance of protecting these,”
“She left us a bucket list to comply with and follow,” Angara enthused.