Secretary Regina L. Lopez on Thursday rallied the people of Mindanao including the officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to work together to make Mindanao a model of social justice and upliftment.

“Mindanao resources are for Mindanawans, not for business and foreign interests. Let’s make Mindanao a model of social justice and upliftment,” Lopez said during the Mindanao Environment Summit held at the Ateneo de Davao University (AdDU).

Some 4,000 representatives from civil society, including indigenous peoples, farmers, fisherfolk and the academe attended the summit highlighted by the presentation of the state of the Mindanao environment (SOMEDay).

Lopez decried the environmental damage brought about by several business interests, particularly the mining sector, as shown in SOMEDay, calling the destruction, a “social injustice”.

The environment chief said that it “hurt her” to see and hear communities in damaged areas losing their livelihood and their resources due to the seeming indifference of mining and other businesses taking advantage of Mindanao’s wealth.

“Mindanao is for Mindanaoans. When its resources are used by others for business and foreign interest, that is social injustice,” she stressed.

“Mindanao is so wealthy, in resources and in intelligent minds. We should all work together to make sure that Mindanao’s resources are enjoyed by the people of Mindanao,” she stated.

Lopez then instructed all DENR officials at the venue to ensure that the agency’s mandate to enforce social justice is followed.

The Mindanao Environment Summit was jointly organized by the DENR and AdDU as a strategy for the DENR to interact closer with stakeholders of the environment.

It is also a step towards Lopez’s thrust to transform the DENR from being “merely regulatory” to being “an activator and catalyzer of change.”