Environment Secretary Gina Lopez revealed on Thursday plans to work with the communist New People’s Army (NPA) in developing Agusan del Sur into a model of her agency’s “ecological, economic, educational” thrust.Speaking at the CEO Forum at the Marriott Hotel in Pasay City, Lopez said she was looking at Agusan del Sur, a province that has heavily benefited from mining but where the rebels operate, to be one of the first areas transformed into an “E3” zone.
The department has earmarked P6 billion for the development of E3 zones nationwide.
She said she was optimistic that she “can remove poverty” in the province by tapping into a P50-million social development and management program (SDMP) fund set aside by mining firms in their sites of operations.
“I already asked the President if I can work with the NPA. In fact, I met them two days ago. I like the NPA. The guy we met was an ex-seminarian … We can’t market the place and do anything if there’s fighting and, at the end of the day, what do they want? They just want a better life,” Lopez said.