Latin America

Lopez to DENR officials: ‘Be proactive, inspire people’

Jee Y. Geronimo

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Lopez to DENR officials: ‘Be proactive, inspire people’
'The best way to protect the environment is to improve people's lives,' says Environment Secretary Gina Lopez

MANILA, Philippines – On her first day on the job, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez urged officials in her department to “dream a little” to improve the lives of Filipinos.

“I would like to transform the [Department of Environment and Natural Resources] from merely regulatory to something more proactive….Each regional director can transform the way you all see yourself from being just regulators to doers of something good,” she told a roomful of regional directors, assistant secretaries, and undersecretaries on Friday, July 1.

She gave her marching orders after her own turnover with her predecessor, Ramon Paje.

Paje gave a short message as he stepped down from the department he led for 6 years. “Isa lang po ang hinihingi ko sa inyo: Kung anong ibinigay niyong tulong sa akin, kung puwede, doblehin niyong ibigay kay Gina (I only ask of you one thing: please give Gina twice the help you gave me),” he said.

Lopez on Friday led the regional directors as they strategized on their respective areas.

“I want you to dream, hope, do something for God and country. Because in two months, it’s budget [season]. When we submit the budget, I want that budget to be relevant to your needs. You can say, ‘Ma’am, we want to do this.’ because I’m at your service. You tell me how you want me to help you,” she said.

She told officials in her department, “[You] have to go deep in your heart to be able to inspire.”

“The best way to protect the environment is to improve people’s lives. That’s my experience,” she said. (READ: Green groups: Lopez is ‘right choice’ for DENR post)

In her first message as environment secretary, Lopez vowed that none of the DENR’s decisions will put the lives of Filipinos at stake.

The anti-mining advocate’s first order of business is to audit all existing mines in the country – a directive, she said, that came from President Rodrigo Duterte himself. –

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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.