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Rural community dev’t key to boost PH economy—former DENR chief

Gina Lopez. photo by KRISTELA DANIELLE S. BOO

PRESERVATION OF natural resources and development of small rural communities can raise the country’s economic growth, the former secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources said in a forum held Wednesday.

Regina Lopez said “village economies” are what the Philippines needs.

“We can get our country out of poverty, we can. We can if we take care of the resources that we have. I’m not a believer in western industrial model. Why would we want to copy the west? We have 7,000 islands,” Lopez said.

“We develop each island so that people there don’t have to come to Manila, don’t have to become [Overseas Filipino Workers]. They can be there with their families and take care of their families,” she added.

Lopez shared the success story of Ugong Rock, a tourist spot in Palawan which helped a community through businesses built using natural resources. “From 30 families, they became 300, and the barangay captain said, ‘Ma’am, lahat ng tao dito may trabaho dahil sa Ugong Rock.’”

Acting on an environmental issue does not need one to be directly affected by the case, Jeanine Leuterte of the Ateneo de Manila Environmental Law Society said.

“I’m from Davao, but I think the Manila Bay should be clean. But I’m not from Manila. General rule will be I cannot file this case,” Leuterte said. “But since this is an environmental case event. Even though I’m a resident of Davao City and I’m not that directly involved in the pollution of Manila Bay, I could still file a case and invoke my rights.”

Avril De Torres, also a member of the Ateneo de Manila Environmental Law Society, said the government should focus on the implementation of its environmental laws. “Hindi tayo kulang sa batas, kulang tayo sa implementation. ‘Yun ‘yung issue natin.”

The forum titled Greeneration: Environmental Law Seminar, was organized by the UST Legal Management Society and was held at Albertus Magnus Auditorium. F MARK JOSEPH B. FERNANDEZ

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