Regina Paz “Gina’ La’O Lopez was appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as the Secretary of Philippines’ Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). She is a philanthropist, a former yoga missionary, a pioneer for corporate social responsibility, and an environmentalist.
Apparently, Gina was reappointed by President Duterte because he believed in Gina’s capability. According to the President, she was bypassed(by the commission on appointments), very strict, not corrupt and cannot be corrupted which is needed in the country at least relatively safe from all predators of all sorts.
Before the President gave her the environment portfolio, Gina has been known to campaign against coal plants and mining.
Here are some facts that you should know about the Philippine’s DENR Secretary Gina Lopez.
- Gina is the daughter of ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Lopez Jr. of Iloilo and Conchita La’O of Manila.
- She has six siblings including ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio Lopez III.
- At a young age she already had a sense of peace and environment advocacy.
- She went to Assumption College and Newton College of the Sacred Heart in Boston, an all-girls school run by nuns. She has a Master’s Degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management.
- She has two sons.
- She studied in the States and left her elite life in Manila. She became a yoga master for 20 dedicated years and went to Portugal, India, and Africa. She met her ex-husband in Africa whom she had two sons. She became an Ananda Marga yoga missionary and taught yoga-run, pre-primary schools and children in homes for the underprivileged. She lived among the people of slum areas in Africa and helped them as her advocacy.
- In her organization, she was sent to places without money and communication. She was also thrown to sea to swim, she survived and learned the value of guts and will.
- She pioneered corporate social responsibility programs for the environment and Filipino communities when she returned in the Philippines. It was her experiences in Africa and other foreign countries that trigger her advocacy even more.
- She became the Managing Director of ABS-CBN Foundation. She commence Bantay BATA 163, the country’s first media-based hotline. And n 1997, Bantay Bata was the United Nations Grand Awardee for Excellence besting 187 countries all over the world.
- She organized Bantay Kalikasan, which also received the 1997 International Public Relations Award of Excellence for the Environment and Outstanding Manilans Award for the Environment, 2009.
- Gina was honoured with the UNESCO Kalinga Award, the first Southeast Asian to earn such a distinction after she produced the educational TV shows on Science, Math, Values, History and English for elementary and Philippine Literature for high school.
- She is the Chairman Emeritus of Southeast Asian Children’s Television and Vice Chairperson of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation that provides microfinance assistance to micro-entrepreneurs.
- She started the rehabilitation of the Pasig River through Kapit Pisig para sa Ilog Pasig Project, since this has been one of the most polluted and toxic river systems in the Philippines today. And because of her efforts she was appointed by President Benigno S. Aquino as the Chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission in 2010. She was also responsible for the reforestation of the la Mesa Watershed Reservation, the last remaining forest zone in Metro Manila.
- Aside from all of the accomplishments mentioned above, she also organized “Bayanijuan” a program bringing about a better life for a millions of Filipinos. She launched the “Save Palawan Movement” She stood up to the challenge as well to gather 7 million signatures to say in one loud voice that key biodiversity areas must be protected and not be destroyed by mining.
- Lopez Family has also been cited internationally with the Global Family Philanthropy Award. She is a pioneer in media-based philanthropy. She has provided an all-around design for the Filipino child, from rescue to education, from protection to financial security, up to the preservation of nature. Her achievements and expertise have been widely acknowledged.
- Gina is a passionate anti-mining advocate. She backs the No Mining In Palawan Movement. She has also objected the use of fossil fuels as sources of energy and coat mining.
- On her first day as DENR secretary under the Duterte administration, she audited all mining sites and firms in the entire republic and stripped environmental certificates from a bulk of the mining industry due to massive violations against the environment and the law, the first time a secretary of environment did so. Few of those that were stripped where for those mining companies doing operations in Semirara Island in Antique, Eastern Samar, Surigao del Sur and Cordillera Administrative. Region.
- She advocated 100 % renewable energy in Philippines. Within less than a 2 months, she audited all mining firms from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. She is also an indigenous (IP) advocate.
In recent news, Gina announced the closure of 23 mining operations in the country and the suspension of 5 others. DENR decided to close any kind of mining operation in “Functional watersheds.” But she’s not happy either with how the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MGB) did the recently-concluded mining audit.