MANILA - Government officials and activist groups mourned Monday the passing of philanthropist and environmentalist Gina Lopez.
Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he was proud to be Lopez' colleague in the Duterte Cabinet, in which she served as environment secretary for 10 months.
"Knew her as a kid then as headstrong teenager. Fixing her mind on a cause—like cleaning out the sh*t in our country & potty-training the mining community on ecological responsibility—she never let up. I am proud to be part of the Cabinet of which she was all too briefly a part," he said.
Malacañang said Lopez' advocacy "remains unparalleled to this day."
"The Palace deeply grieves the demise of one of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte's most passionate Cabinet members whose environmental advocacy and legacy remains unparalleled to this day," Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
While they did not always see eye to eye, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said he remained friends with Lopez even after she left President Duterte's Cabinet.
"We had some slight differences on certain policies during our stint as members of the cabinet but remained as friends. We extend our condolences to the entire family and shall offer prayers for the eternal repose of her should. Rest in peace, Gina," Medialdea said.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Lopez' passion to "save the world was contagious."
"She is truly a good maverick and patriot. The world will not be the same without a Gina Lopez," he said.
Activist group Bayan thanked Lopez for her work at the environment department, describing her as a steadfast protector of nature and the vulnerable sector.
"Sa maikling panahon niya sa DENR, ipinakita nya ang magagawa kapag may malinaw na paninindigan at prinsipyo para sa bayan. Sa loob man o labas ng gobyerno, naging makabuluhan ang kanyang mga kontribusyon. Salamat, Gina," Bayan secretary general Renato Reyes said in a statement.
(In her short time at the DENR, she showed how much work could be done if there's clear resolve and principle for the people. Whether with the government or the private sector, Lopez made remarkable contributions. Thank you, Gina.)
Jaybee Garganera, national coordinator of Alyansang Tigil Mina, said Lopez' death was a big loss for environmental groups.
"Iba yung karakter niya, punong-puno siya ng liwanag, enerhiya, wala hong katapusang trabaho na meron tayong commitment sa tao, sa kalikasan," he told radio DZMM.
(She was a different character, she was full of light, energy, and endless hard work for our commitment to the people and the environment.)
"At ngayon pong wala siya ay malaking kawalan po yan doon sa pagpapatuloy ng ating gawain. Gusto namin siyang maalala sa maraming magandang bagay na kaniyang iniwan."
(Now that she's gone it's a big loss for continuing our advocacy. We want to remember her in the good things she left behind.)
Lopez, long-time chairperson of ABS-CBN Foundation Inc. (AFI), died on Monday due to multiple organ failure. She was 65.
As an advocate for children's rights, she founded the Bantay Bata 163, a helpline devoted to reports of cases of child abuse.
She also established Investments in Loving Organizations for Village Economies (iLOVE) Foundation, which aims to lift communities out of poverty through the creation of environmentally conscious businesses at the grassroots level.
Lopez was the sister of ABS-CBN chairman emeritus Gabby Lopez and daughter of "Kapitan" Eugenio Lopez, Jr.
In lieu of flowers and Mass cards, the family requests that donations be made to the ABS-CBN Foundation.