Philippine anti-mining advocate Gina Lopez dies after battle with cancer

President Rodrigo Duterte waits for the August 2016 summit to start with Davao Archbishop Romulo Valles, Ateneo de Davao University (ADDU) President Fr. Joel Tabora SJ (left), and Environment Secretary Regina Lopez (right). (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Former Philippine environment minister Gina Lopez, who led a high-profile fight against the country’s mining industry, died Monday aged 65, after losing her battle with brain cancer.

The passing of the activist and ecologist was reported by local ABS-CBN News, run by a social development group in which she was the long-time chair. The news outlet did not give details of Lopez’ health condition, but cited “multiple organ failure” as her official cause of death.

She became international known in 2016 after launching a crackdown on the country’s mining industry and closing down several operations on environmental grounds

Lopez rose to international prominence in 2016 by launching a crackdown on the country’s mining industry and closing down several operations on environmental grounds. She also issued a ban on open-pit mining in the Southeast Asian nation, which is the world’s top nickel ore supplier.

Lopez served as President Rodrigo Duterte’s environment minister for 10 months until a congressional committee rejected her appointment in May 2017, forcing her to leave the post.

Duterte’s administration lamented Lopez death, saying she was one of the president’s most passionate alter-egos.

“It is with a heavy heart that we express our sincerest condolences to her family, relatives, friends and loved ones,” presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said in a statement. He said her environmental advocacy and legacy “remains unparalleled to this day.”

Before becoming a minister, Lopez — member of one of the Philippines’ wealthiest families — spent two decades in Africa, India and Portugal promoting yoga and helping the underprivileged. She later returned to the Philippines, where she raised her two children.

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