DENR post offered to anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 21 June) – President-elect Rodrigo Duterte has offered anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez, also chair of the ABS-CBN Foundation, the post of Secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

The offer was made during Lopez’ courtesy call on Duterte at the Presidential Guest House (also referred to as “Malacanang of the South”) in Panacan, Monday afternoon, a press release from the City Information Office said.

President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Monday offered the post of Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources to anti-mining advocate and ABS-CBN Foundation chair Gina Lopez. Lopez has yet to accept the offer. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor's Office President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Monday offered the post of Secretary of the Environment and Natural Resources to anti-mining advocate and ABS-CBN Foundation chair Gina Lopez. Lopez has yet to accept the offer. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor’s Office

“Ms. Lopez came with Norie Garcia, Will Harper, Pat Varias and Jun Baclay and began their meeting with the President-elect at 5:23 pm. At 6:15 pm, President-elect Duterte announced his offer to Ms. Lopez,” the press release said.

Lopez has yet to decide on the offer.

Lopez has gone around the country campaigning against mining, particularly in Palawan and other eco-tourism sites, advocating the need to protect the country’s rich biodiversity.

In January 2013, she rallied residents in the seven towns of Surigao del Sur to oppose mining in eco-tourism sites. She also urged them to join her in generating 10 million votes for the Save Palawan Movement.

At the International Conference of Mining in Mindanao held at the Ateneo de Davao University in January 2012, Lopez asked if it is possible to have “responsible mining if government has problem with governance.”

“The fact is, people are suffering and government has not demonstrated the ability to protect our people. Should we go on in this enterprise when we can’t even assure the well being of our people?” she asked.

The DENR post was among four departments that Duterte offered on May 16 to the Communist Party of the Philippines “if they decide to join my government” but later withdrew the offer, saying there are serious problems particularly on mining that would require the active role of the military.

On June 4 at his victory party, Duterte warned large-scale mining firms that are destroying Mindanao that they have no place under his administration. He vowed to give priority and assistance to poor Mindanawon miners who will band into a cooperative.

“The mining people must shape up,” said Duterte as he cited the destruction wrought by big mining firms, especially in Surigao. “You have to stop,” he said.

Addressing thousands of residents and out-of-town visitors who attended the “One Love. One Nation” thanksgiving party at the Crocodile Park on June 4, Duterte said of these big mining firms, many of them Manila-based but operating in Mindanao: “They’re spoiling the land. They’re destroying Mindanao.”

Ambassadors

Also on Monday, Duterte received diplomats from Spain, Pakistan and the European Union (EU) , the press release said.

European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen and Public Relations Officer Telma Gecolea pay a courtesy call on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Monday in Davao City. Duterte also received the Ambassadors of Spain and Pakistan. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor's Office. European Union Ambassador Franz Jessen and Public Relations Officer Telma Gecolea pay a courtesy call on President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Monday in Davao City. Duterte also received the Ambassadors of Spain and Pakistan. Photo by KIWI BULACLAC / Davao City Mayor’s Office.

Ambassador Luis Calvo and Hon. Consul Francisco Lon from Spain were the first to be received by the President-elect at 3:30 p.m., followed by Ambassador Safdar Hayat and Taimur Zulfiqar from Pakistan at 4:30 p.m. and Franz Jessen and Public Relations Officer Thelma Gecolea from EU at 4:47 p.m. (MindaNews)