MALACAÑANG on Monday mourned the passing of former Environment secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez, saying her advocacy “remains unparalleled to this day.”
“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,” Palace spokesman Salvador 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.
Television network ABS-CBN said Lopez passed away early Monday after battling brain cancer. She was 65.
“With Gina’s passing, we lost a fervent advocate of children’s rights and protection, a passionate proponent of sustainable livelihood among the underprivileged, and an unswerving champion for environment preservation,” ABS-CBN said in a statement.
“Gina was the pillar of strength that pushed AFI to achieve what seemed to be impossible. Her caring heart and selfless kind of love inspired people within and beyond the organization to help and serve others,” it added.
Lopez was appointed as Duterte’s Environment secretary in 2016 but her stint did not last a year after the Commission on Appointments rejected her confirmation.
As Environment secretary, Lopez became known for shutting down mining operations found to have violated environmental laws. She also cancelled contracts for undeveloped mines and banned future open-pit mining projects.
A 1997 International Public Relations Awardee for Excellence for the Environment and the 2009 Outstanding Manilan Awardee for the Environment, Panelo said “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.”
“She would be greatly missed,” the Palace official said.
“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 added.