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‘Environment secretary of the people’: Senators mourn death of Gina Lopez

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Gina Lopez INQUIRER PHOTO/JOAN BONDOC

MANILA, Philippines — Senators on Monday mourned the death of former environment secretary Gina Lopez as they exalted her for her work as an environmental advocate.

“By her selfless works, Gina’s work was the confirmed environment secretary of the people, the minister for sustainable development, and the ambassador for children’s rights,” Senator Sonny Angara said in a statement.

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“She spent a lifetime pouring her considerable talents in bringing to the mainstream the powerless and the voiceless who exist forgotten in the  margins of society,” he added.

Angara also described Lopez as a “one-person green warrior.” 

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He said Lopez “took the fight to where it matters – in boardrooms, chatrooms, government offices, and in her favorite office – out in the open, under a forest canopy or underwater, where she was in her element with people she loved in a country she never gave up hope on.”

Meanwhile, Senator Risa Hontiveros said the former environmental chief would be remembered as a fighter “against big polluters.”

“Gina fought with everything she had against big polluters,” Hontiveros said over Twitter.

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“She’ll always be remembered that way: as a fighter whose legacy will  be remembered by many. Salamat, Gina. Rest in peace,” she added.

Lopez passed away at the age of 65 after she succumbed to brain cancer, ABS-CBN Corporation had confirmed.

As a staunch anti-mining advocate, Lopez ordered 23 mines shut and five others suspended. She also canceled 75 contracts for mining projects located in watersheds.

She was appointed as environment secretary by President Rodrigo Duterte in June 2016.

But in May 2017, the Commission on Appointments voted 16-8 through secret balloting to end her 10-month tenure, during which she nearly shut the mining industry of the Philippines, one of the world’s biggest exporters of nickel. /je

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