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Members from various groups rallying their support for DENR Sec. Regina Lopez's confirmation. Photo by Hannah Lou Balladares

Local groups rally to confirm Lopez

“Ikumpirma! Ikumpirma! Sec. Gina Ikumpirma!”

This was the outcry exclaimed by socio-civic groups and other individuals that gathered at Roxas Street in front of Ateneo de Davao last March 1, 2017 in the afternoon.

The protest was conducted to counter objections on confirming Environment Secretary Gina Lopez after ordering to close 23 mining operations, suspending five more and cancelling 75 mining contracts.

The gathering was attended by students and organizations including the Foundation for the Philippine Environment (FPE), Ateneo Public Interest and Legal Advocacy Center (APILA), University Community Engagement and Advocacy Center (UCEAC), Philippine Eagle Foundation, Gabriela, and other socio-civic groups.

Also attending was forest Ricardo Obenza Jr., who demonstrated his support by a “walk for the environment” where he walked from Calinan to Roxas for about six hours.

Attendees of the event showed off placards that emphasized on the importance of the environment and the desire for the confirmation of Lopez.

University president Fr. Joel Tabora, SJ gave an impromptu message expressing how he supported the appointment of Lopez.

“In our recent memory, the DENR was often the enemy. Whenever we have problems on mining, pollution and people who sit against the environment, the DENR would not listen [and] not care. The DENR was a department that exploited the natural resources for the gain of the few. Finally, under the new administration, Duterte has appointed someone who was passionate for the environment.”

Representatives from the attending groups also gave their own messages of support.

Youth for CLimate Justice representative Rara Ada shared how there is a need to fight for the environment.

“Ang karapatan ng mga mamamayan ay patuloy na mamarka-bahala ng mga malalaking [mining] korporasyon. Ipaglaban natin ang ating karapatan at ang tungkulin natin para sa kalikasan,” Ada stressed.

Other representatives who have given their statement came from Gabriela, Ashram Holistic Spirituality Institute, Union of People’s Lawyers in Mindanao and Philippine Eagle Foundation.

These representatives all stressed the negative impacts of mining in their respective sectors and how they all desire that Lopez will be confirmed.

SAMAHAN Internal Vice-President Alyenna Kate Cifra presented the official stand of the SAMAHAN Central Board regarding the issue.

“On behalf of the Samahan Central Board, we push forward for the confirmation of Ms. Gina Lopez as our secretary in the DENR. We believe in her for we can see her sincere intentions for the environment.”

Simultaneous to the event, the senate had announced that it has postponed the confirmation of Lopez due to recent reorganization.

A new schedule is yet to be released.

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