Anti-mining, environment activist and former Environment Secretary Regina "Gina" Lopez passed away on Monday. She was 65.
Lopez passed away at 4:15 a.m., according to ABS-CBN Foundation, as reported by Rida Reyes on GMA News TV's Balitanghali.
She succumbed to multiple organ failure at Makati Medical Center after battling brain cancer.
In a video post on Facebook last month, Lopez said she was "having health challenges which I have found a blessing."
Her stint at the DENR was cut short, however, after the Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment in 2017. At least 12 of the oppositions filed with the CA against her were about the order to close and suspend mining operations. Lopez also canceled the contracts of 75 mining companies. She was succeeded at DENR by former Armed Forces chief Roy Cimatu.
Prior to her stint as secretary of the DENR, Lopez was involved in various civic works and became a yoga missionary.
She also held a post as managing director of ABS-CBN Foundation and established the hotline Bantay Bata 163, which was awarded for excellence by the United Nations.
Lopez also organized Bantay Kalikasan, which received the International Public Relations Award of Excellence for the Environment in 1997 and Outstanding Manilans Award for the Environment in 2009.
The late environmentalist and philanthropist was also given the UNESCO Kalinga Award, the first Southeast Asian to be given the distinction for production educational TV programs.
Lopez was also the chairman emeritus of Southeast Asian Children’s Television and vice chairperson of ABS-CBN Bayan Foundation which provides micro-finance assistance to micro-entrepreneurs.
She was also known for her efforts in the rehabilitation of Pasig River through Kapit Bisig para sa Ilog Pasig Project. With this, she was appointed as chairperson of Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission in 2010 by then-President Benigno Aquino III.
Lopez also led the campaign for the reforestation of the La Mesa Watershed.
Malacañang on Monday mourned the death of Lopez, and said her "environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day."
Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said Lopez's "passion to save the world was contagious."
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea admitted he and Lopez had “some slight differences on certain policies during our stint as members of the Cabinet but remained as friends.”
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he knew Lopez back in the day as a “headstrong teenager.”
Duterte’s former top aide and now Senator Christopher “Bong” Go remembered Lopez as a “passionate, dedicated and humble” public servant and Earth warrior.
Former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo said the Philippines lost a "people's champion."
The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said Lopez helped the group in its campaign to free Mali the elephant from Manila Zoo.
ABS-CBN Foundation said a memorial service and public viewing will be held at La Mesa Ecopark in Fairview, Quezon City on August 22 and 23 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. —Ted Cordero/KG, GMA News