ON HER first day in office, Environment Secretary Regina “Gina” Lopez found herself in the hot seat, answering questions on her controversial stance against mining.
In her first press conference at the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources (DENR), Lopez’ first interrogators were proresponsible mining students, who had, ironically, gifted her with a metal pot.
The pot was in reference to a video circulating online in which a promining advocate had attempted to humiliate the environmental activist by asking if she used materials such as kaldero (pots), which are mineral products.
Lopez, in her message during the leadership turnover at the DENR yesterday, had given a presentation showing data on the adverse effects of mining operations in some areas in the Philippines, concluding, among other things, that “the poorest areas in the Philippines are mining areas.”
One of the Mining Engineering students, who introduced himself as an “advocate of responsible mining” had questioned Lopez about the accuracy of her data, calling it “misinformation,” to which Lopez countered: “There’s nothing I said that is not the truth.”
“I don’t want to fight with you … I’m not against the mining industry. I use a cell phone, I have an iPad. We all use it. However, I am against suffering,” Lopez said.
“Responsible mining is people must not suffer,” Lopez told the student. “You want to be a mining engineer? My request to you is to do your job with integrity … The No. 1 [priority] is that you should not let people suffer … You cannot build an economy based on suffering.”
Watch the video of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez first press conference