Economy can't be based on 'suffering,' says Gina Lopez
( - June 22, 2016 - 11:52am

MANILA, Philippines — Incoming Environment Secretary Gina Lopez said the Philippines cannot be sustained by an economy oppressive to the poor.

"Ito ang paninindigan ko, and this is what I really believe... we cannot and we must not build an economy based on suffering. We cannot do it," Lopez said in a televised interview on Tuesday.

Lopez is a staunch anti-mining advocate before being chosen by President-elect Rodrigo Duterte to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) earlier this week.

Apparently a reaction to her appointment, mining shares saw a 4.09-percent plunge at the end of trading day on Tuesday.

In a separate interview with ANC, Lopez reacted to the drop in the mining index, saying mining investors may be "making money based on the suffering of the people."

"At the end of the day, who is benefitting from this? Not the poor, so why do we keep doing it?" said Lopez, who also heads ABS-CBN Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation.

Duterte, meanwhile, issued a warning against mining firms at a forum with businessmen in Davao City.

Describing Lopez as "ardent for responsible mining," Duterte said mining companies should plant trees and wash away chemicals they leave behind that destroy ecosystems.

"If you don't do it, I will cancel the permit," he said.

Duterte said there would be a comprehensive review of all mining concessions to ensure that such activities would not be harmful to the environment.

"If you are into it, be sure you have enough resources or I'll require you to go to Canada and Australia to learn how to mine precious metals," the incoming president said.

"When you're spoiling the land, I'll cancel it (permit) without hesitation. That's the bottom line," he added. — Camille Diola

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