When President Duterte appointed Gina Lopez as secretary of Environment and Natural Resources, I said to myself, the President is making his biggest mistake.
Lopez used to say that if she had her way she would not have mining at all in Southeast Asia, particularly in the Philippines.
And that’s exactly what she did by ordering the closure of 23 mining firms and suspending five more. More recently, she cancelled 75 Mineral Production Sharing Agreements in the pursuit of her “green economy” and eco-tourism.
Does she not realize she is duty-bound to observe due process and the rule of law?
The financial losses to local governments and national economy cannot be underestimated. The exact figure of P821.15 million is even higher than the one estimated earlier at P800 million by the Department of Finance. What is particularly alarming in the DoF financial data was that all three municipalities stand to lose all their operating incomes.
These losses don’t include real estate taxes, local business taxes, mayor’s permit fees, regulatory and administrative fees and a lot more. The local governments are also entitled to a share—all these alone will amount to P481.17 million.
The Lopez network, ABS-CBN, tried to justify the actions of Lopez, but stopped short when it could no longer gloss over what Lopez did to local governments and the national economy. My gulay, some 1.2-million jobs will be lost!
The heiress Lopez patronizes the poor and the jobless when she argues that mining causes harmful effects on the environment, and that local communities do not receive the economic benefits and fair return for hosting mining concerns.
But she does not care. She can afford to push her advocacy because she was born rich.
Santa Banana, employers have aired their concern that what Lopez – who was once a drug addict committed to DARE Foundation, but escaped and later on became a member of Ananda Marga, an Indian meditation cult – is doing could worsen poverty.
Lopez said she could not care less if she is not be confirmed as DENR secretary. Of course. She doesn’t need the job.
Now she complains that members of the Commission on Appointments have been offered P50 million apiece so they would not confirm her.
I am sure lawmakers will not take this sitting down. While she did not name names, her allegations cast a cloud over Congress as a whole.
The commission should also inquire into her alleged misuse of funds, both private and public, and her conflict of interest. The Lopez-owned pipeline spanning Batangas to Manila leaked, making a condominium building in Makati uninhabitable.
She is not doing anything about it, though. I am not surprised.
If the President really wants change, he should make Lopez resign since she seems to be the biggest stumbling block in efforts to solve poverty and joblessness.
Mister President, listen to Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez and other members of the Cabinet, who see Lopez more as a problem than as a solution.