- Environment secretary recorded blowing top over reporter in testy interview
- She told reporter she had no heart for the poor, accused her of being bought
- Newspaper defended reporter, Lopez standing by her statements
MANILA, Philippines – Already at odds with the mining industry, Environment Secretary Gina Lopez found herself in the limelight once again after she was recorded berating BusinessWorld reporter Janina Lim for questioning her rehab fund proposal.
In the audio clip which was posted by InterAksyon, Lopez can be heard calling reporter Janina Lim “a f***ing employee” and calling her “heartless” after she repeatedly questioned her proposal for miners to give P2 million to each farmer whose lands had been formerly mined.
“You’re just a f***ing employee. Why don’t you have a heart for the poor? Okay, look at this, when you mine, you disadvantage farmlands, you understand? You understand?” she told Lim. “Like for example in Zambales, there are 2.6 million tons of stockpile… All I’m asking is that they give P2 million for every farmer for every farmland that’s out of the rehab zone. Who’s going to take care of the farmers? What’s wrong with that?”
Asked by Lim and another reporter with her to comment on the miners’ appeal to the Office of the President questioning her proposal, Lopez again threw another tirade and accused them of being bought.
“You know you are so young and you’re already bought by the greed and selfishness,” she said.
In her defense, Lim denied being bought and thanked Lopez for the interview.
Word War Erupts
In response to Lopez’s outburst, BusinessWorld editor-in-chief said Lim was simply doing her job and called out Lopez for her “unbecoming” behavior.
“Janina is a professional. We stand by her dignity and idealism. She ‘has a heart’ for news, facts, and the truth. It is unfortunate, and we are dismayed, that a public servant would attack and malign the integrity of a journalist who is simply doing her job,” he said. “Ms. Lopez’s words were slanderous, her behavior unbecoming of a public official, and her hostility towards reporters who bother to simply ask questions is beyond perplexing. It has troubling implications for press freedom and the people’s right to information.”
For her part, Lopez defended herself; saying she had been running late for an appointment and that Lim had been reporting on her in a negative light.
“It didn’t help that I already don’t like her because she has been on my beat for several months. And has consistently portrayed an insensitivity and lack of compassion for issues I hold dear,” she said. “Yes I lost my cool and I had no intention to talk negatively about her to the world. Her bosses are pushing the issue and this is tabloidish and petty of them to say the least.”