Malacañang yesterday mourned the death of former Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez who succumbed to brain cancer.
“News has reached the Office of the President that former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Regina Paz L. Lopez has passed, and it is with a heavy heart that we express our sincerest condolences to her family, relatives, friends and loved ones,” said Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo in a statement.
“The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day.”
Panelo said Lopez had “fiercely fought powerful interests” in the mining sector, as well as in industries having negative effect on the ecology.
“She would be greatly missed.
“As we pay tribute and give honor to this warrior and advocate, we fervently pray for the Almighty to grant her eternal repose. May the perpetual light shine upon her,” Panelo added.
Lopez was Duterte’s first DENR chief, but her stint at the department was cut short after the powerful Commission on Appointments voted to reject her appointment.
At least 12 of the oppositions filed with the CA against her were about the order to close and suspend mining operations. Lopez also canceled the contracts of 75 mining companies.
Duterte earlier went as far as indicate that lobby money played a role in the bicameral body’s decision to thumb down Lopez’s appointment.
Several members of the commission then came out to deny the allegation.
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Roy A. Cimatu joined the nation in mourning the untimely death of his predecessor Gina Lopez whom he described as a pure champion of the environment. She was 65.
According to Cimatu, the DENR family will always remember Lopez for her fondness, respect and love.
Aside from being bold and fearless in her advocacies regardless of the consequences, Cimatu said Lopez was also known for her being uncompromising in protecting watersheds and imposing high standards of responsibility on the mining industry.
A compassionate for the underprivileged, Lopez was an inspiration to many who promoted ecotourism as a way out of poverty.
“She was an inspiration, a personification of our hopes for a sustainably greener environment with bountiful natural resources,” the former ranking military official said.
Former Armed Forces chief Roy Cimatu succeeded Lopez in May 2017.
The Philippine National Police also expressed its sorrow over the death of Lopez.
“We are deeply saddened by the death of former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez. The PNP expresses its deepest and most sincere condolences to the family, friends and relatives.
“Her various advocacies and gentle soul will forever remain in our hearts. She will continue to be an inspiration as the PNP pursues its core values of ‘makaDiyos, makaBayan, makaTao at Makakalikasan,” said PNP spokesman Brigadier General Bernard M. Banac.
“If only for a short while during her incumbency as DENR Secretary, the PNP is proud to cherish the work we shared with Ma’am Gina in enforcing environmental laws, particularly against destructive mining activities,” Banac added.
With Joel dela Torre/Alfred Dalizon