Secretary Lopez to meet environment advocates in Davao City

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 3 Aug) –Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez will meet with the different green advocates from Mindanao at the Ateneo de Davao University on Thursday to tackle the island’s environmental issues.

The ADDU’s Institutional Communications and Promotions Office confirmed Lopez will be gracing the one-day event called the “Oya Mindanao! The State of Mindanao Environment Day.”

“Oya Mindanao” will be attended by students, faculty members, university staff, indigenous people, and environmentalists who will discuss with Lopez the most pressing environmental concerns.

Interface Development Interventions Inc. (IDIS) executive director Mary Ann Fuertes said that she is hoping that the new DENR chief would prioritize the delineation of the environmentally critical areas and institutionalize the support to community forest guards.

She said that she wants to have a strengthened Philippine Environment Impact Statement System, which is mechanism to attain and maintain an orderly balance between socio-economic growth and environmental protection.

She is hoping that DENR would update the current water quality standards and include new pesticides in the water monitoring.

Fuertes said she wants greening of urban environment be among the programs to be considered by DENR.

“We hope to make DENR accessible to civil society organizations and communities by conducting regular consultation with them to discuss issues on the ground and how the CSOs can help monitor compliance or violations of environmental laws. We hope that they would listen to the people and not to be defensive,” she said.

President Rodrigo Duterte defended Lopez, an anti-mining advocate, from critics during Monday’s media interview.

“You try to castigate Gina Lopez for being strict and yet you destroy the land, destroy the soil tapos yung yayaman kayo diyan,” he said.

The President warned mining companies to comply with environmental standards or face closure.

“You obey or we will survive as a nation without you,” he said.

“Eh butas ka ng butas diyan, landslide ng landslide. Tapos sabihin ninyo, mining is a critical component on the Philippine economy. Of course, it is. Its income [is], but you are also making a critical damage,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)