Those blocking the confirmation of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez should rethink their opposition to the environment chief because she is just doing her job.
This according to President Rodrigo Duterte, who on Saturday defended Lopez while taking a swipe at the mining industry for the damage it has caused to the environment.
In a speech on Saturday, the President said that he himself had seen the damage caused by mining, which is why the DENR chief had his wholehearted support.
“The problem is nakita ko ang kalbo until now, malayo na iyang binutas ninyo diyan because it’s an open pit. Pagka ganoon, I have to support Lopez,” said the President.
The President emphasized that Lopez had his support because like him, Lopez was just enforcing the law and upholding the welfare of the people.
“We protect public interest no matter who gets hurt and that’s what Gina is doing. She’s not really concerned of who owns it. She is not interested in their money,” Duterte said.
The confirmation of Lopez is being opposed by the billion-peso mining industry.
“Ako, I cannot compromise the environment. That’s very clear. So I am with Gina because I want to protect the Filipino people.”
The President stressed that those in the mining industry need not fear Lopez if they followed environmental laws.
“It is not Gina imposing the rules and regulations. It is the law of the environment,” the President said.
“One thing is very clear: Gina has passion for it and she wants compliance. She never said that she is going to close permanently the mining companies. So ayusin mo lang in accordance with the law,” added the President, who also directed expletives at the mining industry while saying that the country could do without the 70 billion pesos in revenue the government earned from mining operations.
“We can live without it. I would rather follow Gina. Maghanap-buhay na lang tayo ng iba, get the 70 billion somewhere else and preserve the environment.”