• Open letter to the President and CA

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    Mr. President Rodrigo Duterte and the Commission on Appointments:

    The Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNAI), a network alliance of more than 70 groups involved with environmental issues, has been able to advocate with Environment Secretary Gina Lopez for the care of Sierra Madre and for its protection from those who see the Sierra Madre simply as an object to be abused or an opportunity to amass wealth. Under the leadership of Secretary Gina Lopez, the DENR started to regain its trust from non-government organizations, peoples’ organizations, indigenous peoples and from other civil society organizations. In Regions 2, 3, 4A, these organizations together with the DENR have resolved to work together to restore Sierra Madre’s forest cover and protect biodiversity from further destruction due to deforestation, mining, construction of roads and dams.

    This principled cooperation between the DENR and CSOs does not sacrifice the intent of the Duterte administration to fight corruption in government agencies, including the DENR.

    We thank the President for making the right decision to appoint Gina Lopez as DENR secretary. We humbly plead with the Commission on Appointments to make the courageous and prophetic stand to confirm her appointment. A new way of relating with the natural world is breaking in, the paradigm of interconnectedness as lived by the indigenous communities in Sierra Madre. Such a new paradigm of caring for the natural world, is happening not only in the Sierra Madre but all over the country. This is evident in Secretary Lopez’s commitment to conserve, protect and rehabilitate the environment.

    We are aware of the effect of Secretary Lopez’s appointment to the DENR. Opposition from very powerful business corporations with vested interests—foreign and local—is very strong. We implore you to stand firmly for the weak: to ensure the flourishing of life, as enshrined in our Constitution, for the indigenous people, the farmers, the fisherfolk and the millions of poor people who have been deprived of the bountiful benefits from our natural resources. God intended fullness of life for everybody, not deprivations and death for the majority of the Filipinos.

    Now is the time to reverse the situation. As committed public servants, please make the historic decision to ensure a balanced and healthy ecology for the Filipino people for all generations to come. May the power of Truth and a strong sense of Justice descend upon you!

    Fr. Pete Montallana
    Chair, Save Sierra Madre Network Alliance Inc. (SSMNAI)
    Rm. 232 St. Anthony Bldg., 891 cor. Cambridge St. and Aurora Blvd.,
    Cubao, Quezon City

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