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Gina Lopez goes through eye of needle

/ 01:10 AM February 16, 2017

Should the government protect the environment or uphold its contract with mining companies to exploit minerals in watershed areas?

It’s a no-brainer that protecting the environment should take precedence over economic development.

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In the first place, mining in watershed areas should not have been allowed.

That’s what Environment Secretary Gina Lopez stressed when she closed 23 mines and cancelled 75 more which were yet to open because they were located in watershed areas.

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But the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines (COMP) said the government should honor its contracts with mining companies no matter what.

It is “no longer a question of whether a handful of companies really violated environment laws” but “whether we still uphold the sanctity of contracts,” COMP said.

The contracts to mine in watershed areas were signed when the chiefs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) were ignorant about the ecosystem or didn’t care about the ecology.

Imagine, mining in watershed areas and slowly poisoning the water!

Clearly, the mining companies didn’t care about the people in the affected communities who would be poisoned by their mine tailings.

Lopez will go through the eye of the needle for her to be confirmed by the bicameral Commission on Appointments which have big businessmen or friends of big business for members.

“I don’t care whether I get confirmed or not. I’m doing the right thing. I will never give in and say, ‘OK you can mine in the watershed’ because I want to be confirmed,” Lopez said in an interview with this columnist at the “Isumbong Mo Kay Tulfo” program over dwIZ radio.

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Lopez, scion of a wealthy family that owns ABS-CBN network and other big companies, is clearly fighting for the welfare of the underprivileged.

“If we are co-opted by big business, who will take care of the fisherfolk and farmers? I come from a business family and I have no problem with people making lots of money. But please, let’s take care of the poor,” she said.

The public might be in for big surprises if Wally Sombero starts naming names during intense grilling by the Senate blue ribbon committee today (Thursday).

Sombero is the principal figure in the P50-million bribery scandal that rocked the Duterte administration.

Transcripts of his statements to the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) have been furnished the blue ribbon committee chaired by Sen. Dick Gordon.

Some committee members might ask Sombero why he mentioned some names, hitherto unknown, to the NBI when he was under its protective custody.

But Wally may choose not to answer questions that will incriminate him and others, according to lawyer Ted Contacto who was present with his daughter Katherine, another lawyer, while Sombero’s statement was being taken at the NBI.

The Contactos are Sombero’s lawyers and will assist him in today’s hearing.

But even if Sombero becomes evasive, expert questioning by Gordon and the other senators might bring the names to the surface.

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TAGS: Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, Gina Lopez, mines, mining closure, Philippine news updates
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