Lopez makes final push to convince CA she's best person for DENR job

"If nothing is done now to preserve the country's environment and natural resources, it will not be done ever."

These were the words of Secretary Gina Lopez as she made her final push to convince members of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) that she deserves to be confirmed as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

On Tuesday, the CA finally decided to terminate the public hearings on Lopez's appointment after conducting a total of three (3) hearings. The bicameral body is set to deliberate and decide her fate on Wednesday.

During her final confirmation hearing, Lopez defended anew her decisions against erring mining companies, as well as the ongoing reorganization at the DENR.

"I'm taking the opportunity to do the right thing because that opportunity may not come again," Lopez told CA members.

Lopez had earlier ordered the closure of 22 mines and suspension of 4 others due to serious environmental violations. She also announced her plan to scrap 75 mineral production sharing agreements or MPSAs with mining companies operating within or near watershed areas.

The environment chief likewise came out with an administrative order requiring suspended mining companies to set aside P2 million per hectare of "disturbed land" for farmers before they are allowed to transport their stockpiles.

Just recently, Lopez imposed a ban on open-pit mining. The ban covers "open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores."

Lopez assured CA members that whatever she does at the DENR are "within the law and government processes."

She maintained it was part of her duty and obligation as DENR secretary to make sure that the "people are not adversely affected by mining."

As for the ongoing reorganization at the DENR, Lopez said she was merely "reformulating" the agency "so things happen on the ground."

Faced with mammoth task at the DENR, Lopez said it is important for her to gather "developmental people" who will help her fulfill the mandate of protecting the environment and ensuring the availability of natural resources to future generations.

"We have so much money in the DENR, but it is not well used," Lopez pointed out.

She added: "We don't have developmental people to keep things happen on the ground. The key is implementation through partnership with well-meaning people." # 

DENR partners with 4 more mining firms on sustainable area dev't

Four more mining companies that passed the industry-wide audit of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) are participating in the agency's program on sustainable integrated area management and development (SIAMD) through responsible mining.

Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives of SR Metals Inc. (Agusan del Norte), Agata Mining Ventures Inc. (Agusan del Norte), Philsaga Mining Corp. (Agusan del Sur), and Carmen Copper Corp. (Cebu).

This brings to six the total number of mining firms that joined the SIAMD, a convergence approach designed to create "mini-economic zones" that can generate sustainable employment, livelihood and income-generating activities in communities where businesses can operate, making it a way better alternative to destructive mining.

Last month, Masbate-based mining firms Filminera Resources Corp. and Philippine Gold Processing and Refining Corp. have signed memorandums of agreement with the DENR regarding the formulation of a development plan for areas covered by their operations.

As SIAMD participants, the mining firms committed themselves to becoming "advocates of responsible mining," share the DENR's commitment to ensuring the general welfare of the communities, and promoting sustainable natural resources management of affected mining areas through the implementation of their respective area development plan and program (ADPP).

The ADPPs will be aligned with the key initiatives of the DENR, including but not limited to the Enhanced National Greening Program, Biodiversity Program, Biochar Program for Agricultural and Other Wastes, Coastal Research and Management, programs on clean water and clean air, and Solid Waste Management Program.

The accords entered into by the DENR with mining firms were pursuant to Department Administrative Order No. 2017-02 that was issued by Lopez in February.

The administrative order calls for the formulation and implementation of a six-year sustainable integrated area development (SIAD) action plan by the government, civil society and private sector.

Lopez has defined SIAD as "an approach, a strategy and a guiding philosophy that weaves environmental considerations with social justice and human development” and is aimed at applying area-based interventions and concepts on natural resources development programs. ### 

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