MANILA, Philippines – Philanthropist and former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Regina “Gina” Lopez died on Monday at the age of 65.

Lopez battled brain cancer before succumbing due to multiple organ failure.

Malacañang expressed their condolences upon hearing the news of Lopez’ passing. “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.

The staunch environmentalist briefly served as President Duterte’s environment secretary. During her time as the DENR secretary, Lopez ordered the closure of mining companies that violated environmental laws. After 10 months, the Commission on Appointments rejected her appointment amid the controversial policies.

“Lopez took the bull by the horns when she fiercely fought powerful interests in the mining sector, as well as in industries having negative effect on our ecology,” Panelo added. “She would be greatly missed.”

Lopez was also chairperson of the ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI). In their statement, ABS-CBN shared that Lopez was 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.”

Among her greatest achievements were Bantay Bata 163 and Bantay Kalikasan. The latter program led to the restoration of the La Mesa Watershed and the Pasig River Rehabilitation. In 2010, she was appointed chairperson of the Pasig River Rehabilitation Commission.

“Gina was the pillar of strength that pushed AFI to achieve what seemed to be impossible. Her caring heart and selfless kind of love inspired people within and beyond the organization to help and serve others,” ABS-CBN said in their statement. “We will never forget her and will continue to honor her remarkable contributions not only to ABS-CBN, but the entire nation. Thank you Gina, for showing us how it is to live in the service of the Filipino.” (HGBH/LMO)

Photo from Facebook page of Gina Lopez

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