The passion of Gina Lopez

Kalikasan PNE Press Statement / Letter to the Editor

5 May 2017

The Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE)
extends its highest commendation to Department of Environment and
Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Gina Lopez for her past 10 months of
pursuing fearless and progressive environmental reforms under the
rallying cry of social justice.

Lopez was clearly a victim of the pervading bureaucrat capitalism in
government. The big mining oligarchs in the Commission on Appointments
likely used millions of pesos in mining money to undermine Lopez’
environmental crusade and ultimately move for the rejection of her
confirmation as DENR secretary. Undoubtedly, the massive resources at
the disposal of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines and other big
mining lobbyists played an insidious role in this coup for corporate
greed. President Rodrigo Duterte said it himself: “lobby money talks.”

We challenge Pres. Duterte to walk his talk of urging legislators to
“hear the cries of Gina” by defying the patently partisan vote of the CA
and immediately reappointing Lopez as DENR Secretary. Duterte must go
the extra mile in continuing to work with Lopez against the dirty
business-as-usual politics of big mining corporations and the mining
oligarchs in government.

Duterte must ensure the bottomline of continuity for the regulations and
reforms that Lopez initiated. Through any means necessary, the Duterte
administration must uphold the historic mining closure and suspension
orders against the 28 destructive large-scale mining projects, the
cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements located in
critical watersheds, and the ban on open-pit metallic mining. They must
also continue the crackdown on big fishpens in Laguna Lake and ensure
its ecological restoration.

In ensuring the continuity of environmental reforms and progressive
leadership, it would be wise for Duterte to heed the counsel and support
of the progressive people’s movement such as the Makabayan People’s
Coalition. The people’s movement is from where Duterte’s most
hard-working, resolutely principled, and pro-people, pro-environment
secretaries, Welfare secretary Judy Taguiwalo and Agrarian Reform
secretary Ka Paeng Mariano, hail from. It is also one of the biggest and
most reliable allies of Lopez’ campaign for the environment.

Among the major achievements pursued by Lopez as environment secretary
is her bridging the question of the environment to the question of
peace. By creating new venues for peace-making with the revolutionary
National Democratic Front of the Philippines through cooperation in the
rehab and development of mining-affected areas within their territories,
Lopez demonstrated how to address the roots of armed conflict through
genuine social and economic reforms.

Duterte, who has shown commitment in constructively pursuing the peace
talks with the NDFP, should realize that he will need not only a partner
for change but also a partner for peace in the DENR. Forging the
Comprehensive Agreement on Social and Economic Reforms (CASER) currently
being negotiated in the peace talks will not only serve to mandate the
pursuit of peace based on social justice, but will also strike the
economic and political influence of corporations and oligarchs right in
the heart.

At the end of the day, it is up to the Filipino people especially in the
frontline communities to bring the passion of Gina Lopez to life. We are
the first and last line of defense against the attacks of corporations
and oligarchs using the full force of the unjust, pro-foreign and
pro-corporate laws and policies against our communities and environment.
We must intensify our resistance to destructive projects, programs, and
policies as our act of defiance to the machinations of corporations and
trapos.

Whatever fate is in store for Lopez, her indomitable fighting spirit
will always be welcome in the pickets, barricades, and protests of the
people against environmental destruction and natural resource plunder.
At the end of the day, it is the people’s collective action that topples
oligarchs and other plunderers.#

National Secretariat
Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment
26 Matulungin St. Central District, Diliman, Quezon City, Philippines, 1100
Tel: 02 920 90 99 | E-mail: secretariat@kalikasan.net | Site:
www.kalikasan.net