- Lopez has finally accepted Duterte’s offer to lead the DENR
- Manny V. Pangilinan reacted to Lopez’s appointment, saying he respects the incoming president’s decision
- Lopez and Pangilinan figured in a heated exchange over mining issues back in 2012
- Lopez’s appointment caused the mining stocks to drop by 4 percent at the end of the trading day on Tuesday
MANILA, Philippines – Business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan, or more popularly known as MVP, could only respect President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to offer Gina Lopez the position to lead Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Sought for reaction to Lopez’s appointment as the incoming DENR secretary, Pangilinan only described the lady environmental activist as the “elephant in the room” as far as the issue of mining is concerned.
“The elephant in the room is Gina Lopez, I apologize for the comparison but let me say this, it’s entirely the prerogative of the president and we respect that,” ABS-CBN News has quoted Pangilinan as saying.
Pangilinan is the chairman of the Philex Mining, while Lopez is a staunch anti-mining advocate.
The two figured in a heated exchange during an industry stakeholder’s conference in Makati four years ago.
Lopez-Pangilinan 2012 heated exchange
In that forum, Lopez, who is the convenor of the Save Palawan Movement, was engaged in a face-to-face confrontation with Pangilinan who said that the areas to be mined are ugly anyway.
“…that is so not true. It’s not true the areas that are gonna be mined are ugly,” Lopez told the Philex chairman before citing examples of the Sibuyan island, home to the world’s densest forest, and Brooke’s Point where “she can drink the water in the river”.
“So when you say that all these mining tenement places are in these areas that are ugly anyway I really think you need to go and visit it,” Lopez said
Even before Lopez could finish, Pangilinan stood up and addressed her by her first name.
“Regina, have you been to Padcal? Have you been to Silangan in Surigao Del Norte? Who would go there and develop a tourism site? There’s nothing there,” Pangilinan told Lopez.
MVP went on by saying that these communities used to be deforested and denuded, but since Philex entered the area, millions of trees have supposedly been planted; not to mention the self-contained community, free housing, free hospitals, free education up to high school, a post-rehab plan in place that were provided by the mining firm.
“There’s a post-rehab plan that we have. Whether by law or not. We care about the people at the point when these guys have to fend for themselves,” Pangilinan stressed.
But Lopez stood her ground and pointed out Pangilinan’s sweeping statement that “all the areas where there’s gonna be mining is ugly anyway”; to which the latter clarified he never said and accused the environmentalist of lying.
The debate between Lopez and Pangilinan has made the rounds in social and business circles then and was highlighted in several media outlets.
To shock the mining industry
Meanwhile, Duterte’s incoming peace adviser, Jesus Dureza, admitted Lopez’s appointment to the DENR post will definitely shock the mining industry.
Nevertheless, he assured that compliant mining companies, including Philex, should have no worries with Lopez even as she is known as one who is very strict in environmental compliance.
“We don’t have to worry about that. He (Pangilinan) is very concerned with complying with the laws,” said Dureza.
On Tuesday, Lopez accepted Duterte’s offer to lead the DENR in the incoming administration; causing mining stocks to plunge by 4.05 percent at the end of the trading day.