Cebu News

Gwen on Gina’s passing: Phl ‘lost a champion’

Lorraine L. Ecarma - The Freeman
Gwen on Gina�s passing: Phl �lost a champion�
Lopez was known for her environmental activism and staunch opposition to mining activities in the country.
G Diaries/Facebook

CEBU, Philippines — Cebu Governor Gwendolyn “Gwen” Garcia mourned the death of former environment secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez, described as a “passionate” environmental advocate.

“I believe that she (Lopez) was gone too soon. As one passionate advocate for the environment, we have lost a champion,” said Garcia.

Lopez died Monday at the age of 65 after she succumbed to brain cancer.

The governor had not worked with Lopez, but the former said she was supportive of Lopez’s inspection on the controversial Inayawan Sanitary Landfill in Cebu City. The Supreme Court ordered the permanent closure of the15-hectare landfill due to environmental violations.

“I know that she was very passionate about the Inayawan Landfill, she herself came and inspected it. I cheered her when she came and inspected it,” Garcia said.

Lopez conducted an ocular inspection in Inayawan Landfill in 2017.

Inayawan was spilling garbage beyond capacity after close to two decades of being operational. Highly urbanized Cebu City produces some 600,000 tons of garbage per day.

The environment department’s Environmental Management Bureau found serious violations in the operation of the landfill, including the leakage of contaminated liquid to the Cebu Strait.  The health department also recommended its closure after assessing that it was no longer feasible to rehabilitate the facility.

Lopez was known for her environmental activism and staunch opposition to mining activities in the country.

She served as President Rodrigo Duterte’s first environment secretary for 10 months, or until May 2017 after the Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment—a decision hailed by mining companies and condemned by environmental groups.

During her brief stint as environment chief, Lopez rocked the mining industry by issuing orders that were true to her promise of cracking down on companies that violate environmental laws.

She ordered the closure or suspension of mining operations in the country, and cancelled mineral production sharing agreements. She also banned open-pit mines in the country. (FREEMAN)

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