May 8, 2017: Let Gina remain an advocate, what we need is a good regulator

May 8, 2017:     Let Gina remain an advocate, what we need is a good regulator

I admire Gina Lopez’s passion as an environmentalist, but this is also why she is not right for the position of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary. In her zealous drive against mining, she has unilaterally arrogated unto herself powers she doesn’t possess as a Cabinet official, starting with disregarding laws and government policy she disagrees with and then inventing her own.

Lopez wants mining stopped in the country, but forgets that mining is a legitimate activity regulated by the Mining Act. If she has a problem with this policy, she should lobby with Congress to repeal the law, instead of shutting down mines left and right, even those that passed the audit she herself ordered. Or, as other similarly-minded individuals did, she can challenge the constitutionality of the Mining Act before the Supreme Court. (Incidentally, one such case filed by Senator Risa Hontiveros is now pending resolution.)

Those who support Lopez should make me understand why it is permissible for her to just ban open pit mining wholesale (but notably excluding quarrying which her family is into) when the Mining Act expressly allows this method of extraction of minerals. With just this one order (that was not subjected to consultations with stakeholders, contrary to DENR practice), she has exposed the Philippine government to arbitration losses to reach billions of dollars for what essentially amounts to expropriation of investment without payment of just compensation.

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