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Lopez pushes non-mining investments

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The criticisms over her decisions, orders, and what she believes in have been overwhelming in the past months. But Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez still thinks that the Philippines can earn more from investments in biodiversity than in mining.

Since the beginning of her takeover at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Lopez already made it clear that except for those that are, in any way, mining-related, she will consider any project that can be beneficial to the environment and the communities.

Lopez, in a roundtable discussion with the Manila Bulletin yesterday, said she prefers billions of pesos worth of investments to go to biodiversity and area development rather than to the mining sector.

The Chamber of Mines of the Philippines earlier projected that the country is poised to make at least $30 billion from mining investments over the next 10 years but Lopez believes this wouldn’t necessarily benefit the Filipino people.

For this year, she allotted a bulk of the DENR’s P29-billion budget to massive reforestation and climate change initiatives instead.

According to her, as she continues leadership within the agency, more funds will go to the development of biodiversity, ecotourism, and more green projects.

“If you’re going to make choices, why don’t we make the ones that benefit the people the most?” Lopez said.

“Each decision that I make literally benefits thousands of lives. Every year, the budget that we get is P26 billion (on average). If I can maneuver and design an organization which is honest, committed, and compassionate, we can do so much. Politics is not easy but it’s the promise of making a massive difference,” Lopez said.

As of now, Lopez is no longer sure if she’ll get to keep the Cabinet position for a long time after eight months of service, after the Commission on Appointments bypassed her appointment twice before closing its last session in March. (Madeleine B. Miraflor)