Former DENR chief Gina Lopez dies at 65

MANILA, Philippines – Environmentalist and philanthropist Gina Lopez died on Monday, August 19. She was 65.

ABS-CBN confirmed the sad news in a statement. "The whole ABS-CBN family profoundly mourns the passing of Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez, chairman of ABS-CBN Foundation."

Rest in peace, Gina Lopez! Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News
Rest in peace, Gina Lopez! Photo Credit: ABS-CBN News

"With Gina’s passing, we lost a fervent advocate of children’s rights and protection, a passionate proponent of sustainable livelihood among the underprivileged, and an unswerving champion for environment preservation," ABS-CBN's statement added.

As reported, Lopez succumbed to brain cancer and multiple organ failure.

The celebrated environmentalist kept her illness from the public, choosing to stay silent about her battle with brain cancer; though she had mentioned about having “health challenges” in a post on Facebook last July.

“As some of you may know, I am having health challenges which I have found a blessing. So yesterday morning, I was blessed to have a visit from Gary, his wife Angeli, and the sister of Maricel who is also a very beautiful person,” Lopez posted as she shared a video of the singer serenading her with a song.

The Malacañang Palace also mourned the demise of the former Chief of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

“The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte’s most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remain unparalleled to this day,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

A noted environmentalist, Lopez was appointed as Secretary of DENR by President Rodrigo Duterte in 2016; however, her appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments in March 2017 following controversial policies she implemented, particularly the closure of several mining operations that violated environmental laws.

Before that, she established Bantay Kalikasan in 1999.

Thanks to her work in launching the anti-mining Save Palawan Island movement, saving the La Mesa Watershed in Metro Manila, and helping in the rehabilitation of the Pasig River, she received the $10,000 international Seacology Prize in 2017.

The daughter of ABS-CBN Chairman Emeritus Eugenio Lopez Jr. and sister of ABS-CBN Chairman Eugenio Lopez III, Lopez might have grown up with a privileged life, yet she is also a notable philanthropist and staunch advocate of children’s rights.

She launched Bantay Bata 163, the first media-based hotline in the Philippines to protect disadvantaged and at-risk children, in her capacity as chairperson of ABS-CBN’s Lingkod Kapamilya Foundation. It was also Lopez who came produced “Sineskwela”, the TV network’s popular educational TV show for children.

Lopez is survived by her two sons. ABS-CBN released a statement for donations to be made to the ABS-CBN Foundation in Lopez’s name, in lieu of flowers and mass cards.

— Joy Adalia, The Summit Express

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