MANILA – Former Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez passed away on Monday due to brain cancer.
Lopez, who was a known philanthropist and environmental activist, died at the age of 65 at the Makati Medical Center.
Malacañang mourned Lopez’s death being “one of the most passionate Cabinet members of President Rodrigo Duterte.”
“It is with a heavy heart that we express our sincerest condolences to her family, relatives, friends and loved ones,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
“The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Duterte’s most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remain unparalleled to this day,” he added.
Duterte appointed Lopez as DENR secretary in 2016 but was rejected by the Commission on Appointments which was composed of members of the Congress.
Lopez was heavily opposed by business groups and even some Cabinet members for her anti-mining stance, even ordering the closure and suspension of some mining operations in the country.
“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,” Panelo said.
“She would be greatly missed,” he added. “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.”
Prior to her DENR stint, Lopez founded the Bantay Bata 163, a helpline devoted to reports of child abuse cases. She was also the chairperson of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc.
Lopez established Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies Foundation that aims to lift communities out of poverty through the creation of environmentally conscious businesses “at the grassroots level.”/PN