Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has vowed to build stronger working ties with all stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of environmental programs of the Duterte administration.
In her presentation during the general membership meeting of the Financial Executive Institute of the Philippines or FINEX at the Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Wednesday (July 20), Lopez emphasized the importance of working together with other government agencies, the private sector and the civil society in implementing the programs of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
To increase the impact of environmental programs at less cost, Lopez said she will work towards institutionalizing the participation of the civil society in environment and natural resource management by setting up a civil society organization (CSO) arm within the DENR.
"Civil society should be the one to protect the environment. We can accomplish this together," Lopez said.
Lopez said her primary focus is to improve the quality of life for poor people by providing them alternative source of livelihoods that promote the preservation of the environment and natural resources.
"The environment is being desecrated because of poverty," she pointed out.
Lopez noted how the funds for the National Greening Program (NGP), the government's massive reforestation initiative that has been extended until 2028, "could be funneled into the economy through farmers, fishermen, and the youth.”
She said the NGP sites would be used to create economic zones through agro-forestry “so that people would grow and care for the trees that they plant and they can earn from it.”
Lopez said she is willing to collaborate with other Cabinet members to ensure the success of the administration's environmental programs and projects. As an example, she cited the commitment expressed by Philippine National Police Chief Director General Ronald "Bato" dela Rosa to run after illegal loggers and fishers, and other violators of environmental laws.
The environment chief also reiterated her interest and willingness to work with the youth sector. "I want to capture their idealism and energy into doing something for the environment and the people," she said.
Lopez said the DENR would tap the academe and some government agencies in building "island models" to showcase convergence approach in developing the environment.
She identified six areas as potential island models. These are Oriental Mindoro, Sibuyan island in Romblon, Palawan, Sorsogon, Guimaras and Batangas.
The DENR secretary also declared every Wednesday as "People's Day" in all DENR offices nationwide to allow officials and employees address public concern and queries starting August 10.