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Lopez to tap rebels for DENR projects

DAVAO CITY – Environment secretary Gina Lopez is open to forming an ‘unholy alliance’ between her department and different rebel groups to push for the development of Mindanao.

During an environmental forum at the Ateneo de Davao University, Lopez said she will try to reach out to rebel groups in conflict-affected areas of the region, specifically the provinces of Lanao and Maguindanao.

The planning is a bit different because there has to be psychosocial healing. There should be no more fighting for now, we work together and bring peace. Who wants to fight? You can feed the children and make the place beautiful,” said Lopez.

Lopez plans to offer war-torn areas with sustainable agro-forestry development in Mindanao to end the fighting in the region and at the same time maximize the potentials of its environment.

“Based on that, they will make plans and programs, and I will fund it. But it should be based on the environment.

It’s all environment, water oxygen, mountains, sustainable living, that’s all kalikasan. But I wanna do other things,” added Lopez.

Meantime, Lopez condemned the killing of anti-mining activist Jimmy Saypan, and reminded stakeholders of a need for environmental justice.

“War reigns in Mindanao because there is social injustice. ’Yung taga Mindanao hindi nag-eenjoy ng resources ng Mindanao,” Lopez said.

She said that her own agency was partly to blame for allowing mining in areas that may have led to the suffering of the people. (With a report from Yas D. Ocampo) (ANTONIO COLINA)