Senators mourn the passing of ex-DENR Sec. Gina Lopez

Robie de Guzman   •   August 19, 2019   •   517

Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – Senators on Monday mourned the passing of former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez.

In a statement, Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go said he is deeply saddened by the passing of Lopez, whom he called a “fearless advocate and a tireless philanthropist,” who dedicated “most her life for the betterment of her fellow Filipinos.”

Go added that Lopez’s “exceptional” dedication to protecting the environment has “no equal today.”

“I had the honor of working with her when she was the environment secretary of the Duterte Administration. As a former colleague in the government, I know how passionate, dedicated and humble she was as a public servant and as an Earth warrior,” he said in a statement.

“Ma’am Gina, taos-pusong pasasalamat po sa inyong hindi napapantayang serbisyo sa kapwa Pilipino. Isa kang katangi-tanging modelo ng tunay na pagmamalasakit sa kapwa tao. May your legacy continue for generations to come,” he added.

Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel also expressed condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of the late DENR chief. He described Lopez as “a famous philanthropist and staunch children’s rights advocate.”

“I am saddened by the demise of such a great public servant and environmentalist as Gina Lopez. She will truly be remembered for her advocacies and contributions in the service of Filipinos,” Pimentel said.

“As the Filipinos mourn the untimely death of former Secretary Lopez, we also pray that her legacy lives on in every person and community her good heart has touched,” Pimentel added.

READ: Former DENR Secretary Gina Lopez dies at 65

Lopez passed away on Monday. She succumbed to multiple organ failure after battling brain cancer.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri recalled Lopez’s many efforts to preserve the environment and helping the aggrieved sectors of society especially poor children.

“Being the chief of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission is just one of the many tasks she carried out well as part of our government. She brought her environmental activism into every Filipino home in her travels around our beautiful archipelago,” he said in a statement.

Zubiri also expressed admiration for Lopez’s causes and for her grace and sublime courage with which she faced the pains of her sickness.

“She walked her talk, be it in defense of helpless children or displaced communities, or in nursing back to life polluted waters or ravaged forests,” he said.

“While in government, her habit of speaking the inconvenient truth to power was actually a strength, and not a character flaw in a bureaucracy straitjacketed by niceties. Though her stint was cut short, Gina was a great ‘secretary of defense of our natural resources’,” he added.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also said many will remember the late environmentalist as “a woman of courage” and a “firebrand,” who pushed for her environmental and child protection advocacies without fear and hesitation.

“She was all that. In or out of government, her life was about tireless creativity for all our collective future, through our children and our environment,” he added.

Senator Sonny Angara likewise paid tribute to Lopez, describing her as a “one-person green warrior” who took her “selfless” fight for environment protection to “where it matters.”

“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the margins of society. She fought for children who were incapable of seeking justice and care for themselves and eloquently spoke for the people in the communities whose voices have been crushed by exploitation,” Angara said.

“She was a one-person green warrior who took the fight to where it matters – in boardrooms, chatrooms, government offices, and in her favorite office – out in the open, under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on,” he added.

Angara also stated that Lopez’s passing has “left us a bucket list to comply with and follow.”

Senator Grace Poe, meanwhile, thanked Lopez for her efforts to protect the environment.

“Sec. Gina Lopez came in our midst and taught us love for mankind and the environment, our common home. Thank you for touching our lives in your impassioned way,” Poe said in a statement.

Sotto doubts passage of SOGIE bill

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 30, 2019

Advocates for LGBT rights hold signs in front of a rainbow installation at the Quezon Hall of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Quezon City, east of Manila, Philippines 13 September 2019. The UP Pride March was held on campus in solidarity with LGBT rights advocates and in support of the Sexual Orientation or Gender Identity or Gender Expression (SOGIE) Equality Bill that is pending in the Philippine Congress. EPA-EFE/ROLEX DELA PENA

Senate President Vicente Sotto III casts doubt on the passage of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity and Expression (Sogie) Equality bill.

Sotto along with Senator Joel Villanueva, and CIBAC Party-list Rep. Eddie Villanueva held a meeting with other groups against the passage of the SOGIE Equality Bill.

Sotto said on Monday (September 30) that 15 out of the 24 senators oppose the said bill. The Senate President had previously doubted the passage of the bill.

He reiterated that the current laws are enough to protect all Filipinos.

“There is no need for it; it is a redundancy. All Filipinos and everyone in the Philippines are equally protected by equal rights and all the rights that are given any individual in the Philippines,” he said during a joint press conference at the Senate.—AAC (with reports from Grace Casin)

DENR temporarily suspends dragon boat racing in Boracay

Marje Pelayo   •   September 27, 2019

Filipino rowing teams compete during the Summer Seasports Festival at Manila Bay, Philippines, 28 March 2009. EPA/DENNIS M. SABANGAN

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has ordered the temporary ban on dragon boat racing in the island of Boracay following the tragedy that claimed the lives of seven members of a local dragon boat team.

Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu who chairs the Boracay Inter-Agency Task Force (BIATF), said that such activities are “postponed for the time being until emergency protocols are thoroughly scrutinized.”

“We are temporarily suspending all dragon boat race activities in Boracay, including practice and training, until we have assessed their practice protocols,” he said.

Meanwhile, all concerned agencies are set to meet on Monday (September 30) to conduct an assessment of protocols and come up with recommendations to address the gaps in relation to the accident.

On Wednesday (September 25), seven members of the Boracay Dragon Force died when the boat they were rowing capsized off Boracay Island.

Fourteen of their team members were injured.

The group was training for an upcoming international competition in Taiwan.

Investigations revealed that the members of the team were not wearing life vests when the incident happened.

DENR to check rivers for coliform content amid polio outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   September 25, 2019

Filipino residents cross a hanging bridge along the polluted water of Pasig river in Manila, Philippines, 31 May 2018 (issued on 04 June 2018). EPA-EFE/FRANCIS R. MALASIG

MANILA Philippines – The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) will conduct testing of water samples from all rivers across the country amid the ongoing outbreak of poliovirus.

The test is to determine the quality of and coliform content in the country’s bodies of water after water samples from the sewerage system in Tondo, Manila and Davao city tested positive of poliovirus.

According to DENR Undersecretary Benny Antiporda, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu has ordered all its regional offices to submit the results as soon as possible.

“Hahanapin namin ang mga pipes na nagtatapon sa mga rivers para masiguro natin na hindi na madagdagan pa ang polusyon ng river (We will trace the pipes that discharge directly into the rivers to make sure that pollution level in our rivers will not escalate),” Antiporda said. – MNP (with details from Grace Casin)

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