AUGUST 19, 2019 – Former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, a staunch anti-mining activist, died on Monday due to multiple organ failure, her family-controlled broadcast network ABS-CBN said. She was 65.
“With Gina’s passing, we lost a fervent advocate of children’s rights and protection, a passionate proponent of sustainable livelihood among the underprivileged, and an unswerving champion for environment preservation,” ABS-CBN said in a statement.
Malacañang also extended its condolences to the family and relatives of Lopez.
“The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remain unparalleled to this day,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.
“Secretary Lopez… took the bull by the horns when she fiercely fought powerful interests in the mining sector, as well as in industries having a negative effect on our ecology. She would be greatly missed,” he further said.
Gina Lopez was appointed to Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in 2016.
The Commission on Appointments, however, rejected her appointment in 2017 amid opposition on her move to close and suspend mining operations she deemed harmful for the environment.
Retired general Roy Cimatu took over her post.
Lopez also led efforts to rehabilitate Pasig River and La Mesa Watershed.
She likewise founded Bantay Bata 163, a helpline for reports of child abuse cases, and established the Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies (iLOVE) Foundation that seeks to uplift communities by creating environmentally conscious businesses.
In 1997, she was given the International Public Relations Award of Excellence for the Environment and the Outstanding Manilans Award for the Environment in 2009.
She was also the first Southeast Asian to receive the UNESCO Kalinga Award for producing educational TV programs.