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A big loss to the environment

/ 12:28 AM May 04, 2017
gina lopez

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / GRIG C. MONTEGRANDE

The decision of the Commission on Appointments (CA) not to confirm Gina Lopez as environment secretary is detestable.

It would have been a different story if Lopez was not an avid environmentalist and many CA members did not have a personal stake in the mining industry.

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Going after mining companies which have destroyed our rivers and forests was Gina’s advocacy for which she incurred the ire of wealthy miners with friends in the CA.

Lopez may well be the first chief of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) who was not confirmed for doing her job of protecting the environment.

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Gina was not only a loss to President Digong who appointed her. She is also a bigger loss to the people who have been deprived of a guardian for the environment.

Unlike most Cabinet members, Lopez was not in Mr. Duterte’s inner circle.

But the President appointed her anyway because he knew that she would do her job fiercely.

Gina is a strong advocate of clean air and the preservation of our forests and rivers.

As an aside, she went against her close relatives’ advice when she accepted the President’s offer to head the DENR.

Director Dante Gierran of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was fuming on Wednesday when he learned that his agents didn’t act promptly on a rape complaint filed by a 19-year-old girl against her prospective employer.

As a result of the sluggishness of agents at the NBI’s Violence Against Women and Children’s (VAWC) section, the case will go through the normal but tedious process of being investigated by the prosecutor’s office before it is filed in court.

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“I will see to it that the agent on case and his chief will be made to answer for their inaction,” Gierran told this columnist who referred the rape case to the NBI.

When a rape victim complains to the police or the NBI immediately after the crime, the respondent can be arrested without a warrant within 36 hours.

Joy (not her real name) came to my office at “Isumbong mo kay Tulfo” hours after she was raped. She was still in a state of shock.

She identified the suspect as an official of a shipping firm where she was applying as a marketing agent.

My office immediately called the NBI so that it could detain the suspect within the 36-hour reglamentary period for a warrantless arrest in heinous crime cases.

But when the victim went to VAWC office, one of the female NBI agents even berated her for going to the media first instead of the bureau, not taking into consideration her ignorance of proper procedure.

The agents hemmed and hawed over the complaint until the 36 hours lapsed.

The correct procedure would have been for the agent on case to take charge of the victim’s complaint, have her undergo a medico-legal examination and then immediately arrest the suspect even without a warrant.

“I will not condone inefficiency within my agency,” the NBI chief told me.

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TAGS: Commission on Appointments, Gina Lopez, On Target
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