Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) chief Gina Lopez reportedly unleashed the F-word when she got irked by the questions asked by BusinessWorld reporter Janina Lim. InterAksyon reports that the incident happened on Wednesday, April 5.
Lopez said that Lim had conducted an ambush interview. The latter asked her about DENR's new order for mining companies to set aside more funds—apart from what they are required—to contribute to a "Rehabilitation Fund" for formerly mined lands.
The new DENR order issued by Lopez involves having the mining companies pay P2 million to each farmer whose land is out of the rehab zone.
Lim had asked Lopez to clarify how her new order would be implemented. Lopez reportedly cut off Lim by saying, "You know, you're just a f***ing employee." She then supposedly said that Lim had "no heart for the poor."
When Lim persisted in asking her question, Lopez replied, "All I am asking is to give P2 million to every farmer of a farm that's out of the rehab zone. What's wrong with that? They're disadvantaged, it's out of the rehab zone."
Lim then asked for Lopez's reaction to the fact that mining companies gone to the Office of the President because they are "questioning the additional requirement."
Lopez answered, "What questioning? They disadvantaged all the farmlands, they should f***ing take care of it. What's wrong with that? They're making so much money from the stockpile. Don't you think they should take care of the farmers that they disadvantage? You, in your heart, don't you think they should? Who's gonna take care of the farmers?"
Lim once again tried to follow up with another question, but Lopez said, "You know, you are so young and you're already bought by the greed and selfishness."
Lim ended up saying to Lopez, "I was not bought, Ma'am. I was not bought. Thank you. Thank you."
BusinessWorld editor-in-chief Roby Alampay—who is also the editor-in-chief of InterAksyon—has released a statement reacting to Lopez's tirade against Lim.
Alampay stated, "Janina is a professional. We stand by her dignity and idealism. She 'has a heart' for news, facts, and the truth. It is unfortunate, and we are dismayed, that a public servant would attack and malign the integrity of a journalist who is simply doing her job. Ms. Lopez's words were slanderous, her behavior unbecoming of a public official, and her hostility towards reporters who bother to simply ask questions is beyond perplexing. It has troubling implications for press freedom and the people's right to information."
For her part, Lopez sent a text message to BusinessWorld, wherein she explained, "I was rushing to a TV interview and I was already very late. I was acccosted by Janina Lim of BusinessWorld in the stairway. She is young and persistent—but I have often been irritated by her line of questioning. She was not the best person to meet while rushing for an appointment. So I lost my cool with her—which has some history since she has been covering the DENR beat for many months."
The "stairway" referred to by Lopez is presumably inside the DENR building.
Lopez added, "It was a repartee that took place in a stairway. Without anyone there. It is unfortunate that this is hitting the news."