Lopez won’t support move to split DENR
Environment Secretary Regina Lopez on Monday said she would not support any legislative move to split the agency into separate Departments of Environment and of Natural Resources.
During the appropriations hearing of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) proposed P28.671-billion budget in 2017, Lopez was asked by Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque for her position on the legislative move to split the DENR.
Roque said there seems to be a conflict between the regulatory functions of the department when it comes to protecting environment and the duty to ensure the optimal use of natural resources.
“There seems to be a conflict between that seeks to protect the environment and to promote the ultimate use of natural resources… One hand, you have the mandate to protect the environment, the other hand, the mandate to utilize the resources of the country. Will you be supportive of such legislative initiative to separate Department of Environment and Natural Resources so you won’t have a schizophrenic personality?” Roque asked Lopez.
Lopez said splitting the DENR would not allow the department to make a choice between cracking down on irresponsible mining and ensuring responsible use of resources.
“I believe that the resources of the Philippines should be utilized and enjoyed by the people of the Philippines. It’s all about choices. I don’t support this stand because it does not allow these choices to be made,” Lopez said.
She cited by example the resource-rich Nueva Vizcaya affluent both with fruits and gold.
“You’re saying if we’re going to mine it, then we’re going to mine it. Nueva Vizcaya (has) the big dalandans, rambutans… Nueva Vizcaya also has the best gold in the world. In each area, there are choices,” Lopez said.
“If you divide it, then you’re saying that whatever happens we’re going to mine anyway. So there’s no possibility of making a choice as to the best utilization of the area,” she added.
Lopez said separating the priorities of the DENR in regulating destructive mining and making sure there is efficient use of natural resources would stifle other possibilities for the DENR such as agriculture and ecotourism.
“If you divide it, mining and the use of natural resources, you don’t allow those choices to be made. One you choose mining, you don’t allow the possibility of agriculture and ecotourism to happen,” Lopez said.
“If you choose mining, you don’t allow other possibilities,” she added.
Lopez reiterated her position that she is not anti-mining but only against irresponsible mining that causes suffering to the affected communities.
“I use the computer, the phone, I’m not against the mining industry. What I’m against is the suffering of the people. I’m very much against if the farmers and fishermen suffer, if lives are adversely affected, and some people make a lot of money,” she said.
“We cannot built a world based on suffering,” Lopez added. RAM
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