Without doubt, Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) head Gina Lopez has a new found popularity as the new environmental hero. As of posting, her Facebook page alone has 309,600 likes with a stunning 112,655 new page likes that is a whopping 161.2% spike. The spike is common to those political promotion pages where likes are ‘bought’ to make an impression that the page is quite ‘popular’. Are the “likes” even real in the first place? In today’s highly competitive digital marketing world, automated and fictitious accounts, more known in the industry as “bots” or robots in common language are behind those “likes”. In other words, these are automated programs run by the computer or by a human with multiple accounts used for “liking” and “sharing” pages and accounts to make the page or post appear legitimately liked by real people, when in fact paid trolls are behind it. We can only speculate if the well protected oligarchy that supposedly fights for freedom of expression has plans for a Senate seat in the near future. Or even perhaps the presidency, besides her social media stardom can have an impact should she ever run for a higher seat.
With this popularity comes people’s appreciation for her staunch hard-line approach. So the question that begs to be asked is, how much of an environmental advocate really is Gina Lopez? Is Gina Lopez really the selfless “Mother Teresa of Mother Nature” she and her family’s media conglomerate all true or just a ruse to hide the fact that she is instead the successor to her late grandfather, the former vice president’s true legacy of using her government position to benefit her family’s greedy interest in the environment?
Let’s backtrack a bit and see how the Lopez clan came into power. From a simple mayor of a provincial city, Lopez quickly rose in the national political scene by becoming senator then later vice president to Elpidio Quirino, then later to Ferdinand Marcos. Shortly after winning the 1965 elections, the Lopez-owned Meralco began eating up the competition around its base of operation until it had complete monopoly of the power distribution. So it comes as no surprise that Meralco’s revenue from P5 million in 1962 quickly shot up to P69 million before the end of the decade. During the same period, Meralco’s assets grew from P155 million to P1.037 billion. The break with the Marcoses happened when the late dictator said that the Lopezes were asking for more concessions to advance their businesses, one of them is the granting of a permit to exclusively operate a geothermal plant in Manila. The Lopezes say Marcos wants more slice of their family’s corporate pie. Whoever was telling the truth no one knows. But here is one truth to the story. After the Marcoses left the country in 1986, the Lopezes was back again in the power generation and distribution business. That geothermal plant in Batangas? That is now the BacMan Geothermal Power Plant operated by the Lopez family’s Energy Development Corporation (EDC)
Contrary to popular belief, the Lopezes are bad with managing their business, so bad they need the help of the crook Ferdinand Marcos to save their company from bankruptcy. That’s right. There are documentary evidence to prove that the Lopezes “appealed” to the dictator for the government to take over Meralco because of the imminent bankruptcy the power distribution company was facing. Former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile, then the defense minister of Marcos said he has copies of the letter to prove that it is not true that the “martial law government (forcibly) took over Meralco.” Enrile said he posseses, among other documents, two letters from the late Vice President Fernando Lopez, offering to sell Meralco to Marcos. The first letter was dated Feb. 19, 1973, while the second was written on March 20, 1973.
But after 1986, we all know what happened. The Cory Aquino government handed over Meralco to the Lopezes as if like taking a candy from a baby. The Lopezes did not shell out a single centavo to reclaim Meralco, all because of a lie perpetrated by the Lopezes that Meralco was forcibly taken from them by the martial law regime.
These family has a knack of getting free stuff. If there is such a thing as a free lunch, the Lopezes are good at it. When is it that whenever the Senate investigates the behest loans of beleaguered state-owned Development Bank of the Philippines, senators would quickly make the classic pivot when questions centered on the behest loans of the sinking Lopez companies like BayanTel and SkyCable? That is P1.6B worth of bad loans was written off by DBP without any explanation! This family must have an endless supply of “Get Out of Jail Free” Monopoly cards!
This probably is the genetic makeup of one Regina Paz L. Lopez. For instance, in 2012 alone, Gina was under fire when indigenous tribes from Sabsaban Falls in Barangay Aribungos, Palawan protested her family’s plans to construct a tourism park by forcibly taking ancestral lands and cutting trees to pave way for the project. Yes you read it right, cutting trees!
The Lopez response then is somewhat familiar today, ‘she wanted to save the area from the ravages of mining companies by converting it into a biodiversity school’ aka ecotourism spot.
Early the same year, ABS-CBN Foundation executive director Gina Lopez led environment groups in asking Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales to look into the Palawan Council for Sustainable Development (PCSD) mining-related decisions, which led to the destruction of Palawan’s forests and watersheds.
Then House of Representatives Vice Chair of the Committee on Natural Resources Teddy Brawner-Baguilat said the right words that Lopez should have been more consistent in her advocacy that, “there should be no double standard here.”
How is it that when Ms. Gina Lopez cancels ECCs left and right, suddenly, like a thief in the night, the DENR issues an Environment Compliance Certificate to the Green Core Geothermal, Inc.’s Tongonan Geothermal Power Project in Barangay Lim-ao, Kananga, Leyte? Green Core is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Lopez family’s Energy Development Corporation.
Is Gina Lopez really the crusader for the poor and the environment or just fulfilling what is being dictated to her by her genetic programming and honouring her family tradition? That by securing a family in political power in order to benefit the family interest?
The Philippines is once again being played under a great charade to feed the insatiable greed of an oligarchy.
http://www.philstar.com/headlines/176968/i-have-papers-proving-meralco-was-legally-sold-gov%C2%92t-enrile http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/208231/tribals-to-gina-lopez-keep-off-our-land http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/231181/raps-pushed-vs-denr-exec-in-palawan http://opinion.inquirer.net/16769/dbp-wrote-off-p1-6b-in-loans-to-lopez-group An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines by Alfred W. McCoy, copyright 1993