MANILA -- Malacañang mourned on Monday the death of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, who succumbed to brain cancer.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo described her as one of President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s “most passionate” Cabinet members.
“News has reached the Office of the President that former Secretary of Environment and Natural Resources Regina Paz L. Lopez has passed, and it is with a heavy heart that we express our sincerest condolences to her family, relatives, friends and loved ones,” Panelo said in a statement.
“The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day,” he added.
Panelo said that the Palace would pray for Lopez and that she would be “greatly missed”.
“As we pay tribute and give honor to this warrior and advocate, we fervently pray for the Almighty to grant her eternal repose. May the perpetual light shine upon her,” Panelo said.
Despite Duterte’s appointment, Lopez was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA).
During her term as DENR chief, Lopez drew the ire of the mining industry when she ordered the closure of over-mining companies as these affected watersheds, and also threatened to ban open-pit mining in the country.
Panelo said that Lopez “took the bull by the horns when she fiercely fought powerful interests in the mining sector, as well as in industries having negative effect on our ecology.”
Lopez received the 1997 International Public Relations Award for Excellence for the Environment and the 2009 Outstanding Manilan Award for the Environment.
She was also long-time chairperson of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI).
On July 2018, Duterte said he suspected that "conspiracy" was behind her removal because of her strong anti-mining stance. (PNA)