She ordered 23 mines to shut down and about five others to suspend operations. She also canceled 75 lucrative contracts for mines that she said threatened watersheds.
But Lopez’s swift assault on the industry faced stiff opposition from influential mining groups, and she was forced from her job when the Philippine Congress denied her confirmation to the post just 10 months after Duterte appointed her.
“I’m going to do the right thing and let the dice fall where it may,” Lopez said when she canceled the mining permits. “And I am going to hope that maybe these politicians, even if they’re funded by mining money, must have love for God and country in their hearts.”
Salvador Panelo, a spokesman for Duterte, called her one of the country’s “most passionate cabinet members, whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day.”
Until Lopez took the job of environmental secretary, advocates say that government corruption had for decades let Philippine mining companies skirt environmental regulations, resulting in deforestation, flattened mountaintops and heavy metal contamination of water and soil.
The outspoken Lopez was also actively involved in environmental advocacy promoting sustainable tourism in the Philippines.
A scion of the family behind ABS-CBN Broadcasting Corporation
Lopez was the longtime head of the ABS-CBN Foundation, the broadcaster’s charitable arm, which spearheaded various notable environmental projects.
Born Dec. 27, 1953, Lopez was the second of seven children of Eugenio Lopez Jr., the former chairman and chief executive of ABS-CBN, and Conchita La’O.
She had described her childhood as carefree, and she later studied in the United States, where she discovered meditation.
She became a yoga missionary with the Ananda Marga religious sect and served in Europe and Africa. In the early 1990s, she returned to the Philippines to join her family and was appointed the head of the family corporation’s charitable foundation.
At the ABS-CBN Foundation, she oversaw many diverse projects, including rescuing children from domestic violence and promoting educational television.
(Source: ABS CBN News Service/Philstar/2019 New York Times News Service