Mr. President, it is unfortunate that we let pass an opportunity for the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to be led by someone who has the passion, integrity and political will to implement our environmental laws.
We live in extraordinary times and we need an extraordinary kind of leadership.
Our natural environment has been compromised in the name of development. Our biological diversity has been significantly reduced and the general health of our environment is conceded to the greed of some.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that our ecosystems have been altered more rapidly for development programs but the poor have remained poor. We do not realize that the things we want to gain and develop through the use of ecosystem services, are the very same things we lose due to exploitation and unsustainable use of our natural resources.
When Gina Lopez was appointed Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, her mantra was “Without ecological integrity and social justice, we cannot have genuine, inclusive economic growth.”
The DENR has partnered with six other agencies—Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Transportation (DOTr), Department of Justice (DOJ), Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP), and Philippine Coast Guard (PCG)—to go after large-scale environmental offenders.
Under her leadership, the DENR has undertaken an assessment of mining firms, closure of illegal quarrying operations in Mt. Banahaw, dismantling of illegal structures in Laguna Lake, and intensified operations in illegal logging hotspots in the country; while promoting sustainable economic alternatives such as ecotourism and renewable energy investments.
In such a short time, in less than a year of service, Gina Lopez has already done a lot as DENR Secretary. She could have done so much more if we had given her the chance. I wish my support would have been enough, but we have rules to follow.
I just hope that the next DENR chief would also have the same passion and political will but would not suffer the same fate in the Commission on Appointments.
I register my DISSENT to the Commission’s rejection of the confirmation of the ad interim appointment of Secretary Regina Paz La’O Lopez.