Greenpeace blockades DENR, declares environment agency ‘not open for business’

Press release - May 8, 2017
08 May 2017 Manila, Philippines – Activists from Greenpeace Philippines today blockaded the gates of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) head office in Quezon City to protest the continued control of the Philippine government by big business interests, and as a failure of the current administration to stand by the reforms it is pursuing.

The protest stems from the decision of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to reject Regina Lopez as head of the DENR last week.

“Big businesses, such as the big mining firms Ms. Gina Lopez has confronted during her provisional appointment as DENR Secretary, have gone out of line by rendering our government institutions at their behest. It is deplorable how our politicians have been captured by corporate interests and have chosen to ignore public and national interest because they themselves are in cahoots with the environmental plunderers. Every Filipino deserves the right to live, to breathe clean air, to drink clean water, and to live in a clean and safe environment,” said Yeb Saño, Executive Director of Greenpeace Southeast Asia and one of the frontline activists barricading the DENR.

“We need to RESIST: fight head on the corporate influence over government that leads to impunity of polluters and the lack of accountability from our politicians. It is our duty as the people to reclaim government from the clutches of the greedy,” Saño added.

Greenpeace locked the gates of the DENR and eight activists, wearing orange jumpsuits and with tube locks connecting their arms, occupied both front gates of the agency, impeding access by visitors to the compound. A long banner that read ‘DENR: Not open for Business’ was hoisted outside the compound.

They also asked President Rodrigo Duterte why he never firmly stood for Lopez’s appointment to the agency.

“Lopez’s rejection by the CA is a sign that horse-trading is still the name of the game and that powerful business executives and corrupt government officials still run the show. The DENR should be defended against the interests of corporations that push the country towards environmental bankruptcy.  The agency - and indeed our environment- is not for sale nor is it available to the highest bidder,” Saño added.  

“We will not sit idly and watch them squeeze the blood out of our environment! We will defend DENR!”

The group said that, with the rejection of Lopez, the reforms she introduced should be protected and continued. They are also calling for transparency and accountability on the votes cast by the members of the CA.

Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining corporations located in watersheds, suspended five others, and cancelled 75 mining contracts[1]. She was also able to dismantle illegal fish pens in Laguna de Bay that threaten small fisher folk in the area. Her actions have angered big mining corporations, prompting at least 27 oppositions to her confirmation filed with the CA.[2]

The CA held the voting in secret, a new rule that was only introduced prior to Lopez’s and former Department of Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay’s confirmation hearings[3]. CA members who have interests in, and connections to, mining corporations also refused calls to inhibit themselves from the hearings[4].  Greenpeace is challenging both Houses of Congress to scrap midnight provisions and launch investigations into the actions and decisions of their members that now effectively protect public officials having conflicts-of-interest from public scrutiny.

Notes to the editors:

[1] http://news.abs-cbn.com/video/business/02/02/17/denr-orders-closure-of-23-mining-firms
[2] http://www.rappler.com/nation/162930-opposition-vs-lopez-confirmation-give-pacquiao-headache
[3] http://www.rappler.com/nation/163485-ca-commission-on-appointments-secret-voting-new-rules
[4] http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/03/1677493/ca-members-mining-interests-urged-inhibit

For more information:


Vince Cinches, Political Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| +63 949 889 1336

Angelica Carballo Pago, Media Campaigner, Greenpeace Southeast Asia – Philippines
| +63 949 889 1332

For photos and videos:

Grace Duran-Cabus, Photo Desk, Greenpeace Southeast Asia
| Mobile: +63 949 889 1335