Philippines shows anti-mining environment minister the door

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Senator Francis Pangilinan, a member of LP, said that Lopez rejection was a missed opportunity to have a DENR head that would truly care and protect the country's environment. She had ordered the closure of more than half of operating mines in the country while open-pit mining was banned in the final days of her time in office.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Lopez the Malacañang has no choice but to accept the CA's ruling on the appointment of Lopez.

The mining firm said it assailed the said additional requirements before the Office of the President, arguing that it has been depositing similar funds required under the law for the same goal of "mitigating the adverse impacts of our operations to the environment and the affected communities".

Finance Undersecretary Bayani H. Agabin said that the DOF is respecting the CA decision. "It needs guts. It needs tapang (bravery) because you have to step on business interest", Lopez told reporters.

Zamora shrugged off the comment, saying it had something to do with San Juan politics.

Panelo said he was saddened by Lopez's rejection, but he said there are more "equally talented" individuals who can take her post. "[It's] sad. The Liberal Party would have wanted to see Secretary Lopez carry out her programs, but it's democracy and that's our system", Drilon said.

A committed environmentalist, Lopez was selected by Duterte because of her record as an activist dedicated to the poor, which included cleaning up the Pasig river that flows through the heart of Manila, reforestation work and safeguarding areas of biodiversity.

"The rejection undermines the reforms the current administration is pushing and could be an indicator of factions between those who have benefited from old corrupt practices and those who are genuinely advancing for true, genuine, and people-centered changes", he added.

The mine audit ordered by Lopez past year subsequently caused the closure and suspension of 28 operating mines for failing environmental standard based on a criteria anchored on social justice. She also cancelled 75 mining contracts, and last month issued rules banning future open pit mining operations.

She also 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.

DENR Secretary Gina Lopez last Thursday signed a memorandum of understanding with representatives of SR Metals Inc.