Greenpeace seeks Gina’s return to DENR

MANILA- Environment watchdog Greenpeace is appealing President Rodrigo Duterte to allow ousted environment chief Gina Lopez' to return to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

Greenpeace is open to having the Chief Executive himself lead DENR - as Lopez suggested - with the ousted environment secretary playing a major role in this agency's protection and conservation efforts, said the watchdog's campaigner Vince Cinches.

Given extent of the President's work, however, Cinches noted Greenpeace's priority appeal is for Mr. Duterte to look into the possibility of still re-appointing Lopez as DENR head so she can implement initiatives for truly boosting environmental protection and conservation nationwide.

"We want to test the Philippine Constitution's bounds in terms of promoting people's right to a healthful ecology," Cinches said.

The Constitution's Article II Section 16 provides that the State "shall protect and advance the right of the people to a balanced and healthful ecology in accord with the rhythm and harmony of nature."

On Wednesday (May 3), majority of CA members voted to oust Lopez from DENR mainly over mining-related issues against her.

CA's decision drew the ire of Greenpeace and other environmental groups.

"The decision is dismaying and an affront to the Duterte administration's environmental protection and conservation bid," said Cinches.

He noted several personalities are in Greenpeace's list of possible successors to Lopez.

Lopez' re-appointment as DENR head remains Greenpeace's priority call, however, he said.

Cinches said Greenpeace and other environment groups were already "recalibrating" respective strategies so these can better express dismay over CA's decision.

"We'll make sure CA members concerned will feel different environmental stakeholders' backlash over the decision," he said.

In a statement earlier, Greenpeace Exec. Dir. Yeb Sano said CA's rejection of Lopez was a rejection of change as this "blocked what could have been the golden era of Philippine environmental rehabilitation and protection" under her.

"When someone is ill and dying, you don't take his wallet and rob him but try to do everything you can to revive him - our environment is dying and our politicians choose to rob it more," he also said.

Marine conservation group Oceana Philippines considers Lopez' rejection a loss for the Philippines.

"She set the highest standards for environmental stewardship and mainstreamed partnerships with civil society organizations - a feat that merits replication by her successor," said Oceana.

Philippine Movement for Climate Justice (PMCJ) condemned CA's decision, calling it a betrayal of and disservice to Filipinos.

"CA members who rejected Lopez should be held accountable for siding with business and corporate interests that make billions of money in destruction of our planet and suffering of our people. said PMCJ national coordinator Ian Rivera.

Cinches said Lopez' environmental track record over the years, including surpassing past environmental chiefs' performance, augurs well for her return to DENR.

"What she's done is unprecedented," he said.

Among Lopez' initiatives at DENR were suspending mining companies this agency's audit deemed as violating relevant regulations.

She also banned open pit mining.

Source: Philippines News Agency