The Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday voted to reject the nomination of Secretary Gina Lopez to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
Lopez is the second Cabinet official appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte to be rejected by the CA.
Last March, the bicameral body rejected the nomination of Perfecto Yasay Jr., who was appointed to head the Department of Foreign Affairs, over issues regarding his citizenship.
Lopez had faced three CA committee hearings, answering questions about her order to close 23 mining operations and suspend five others last February, and her competence to lead the DENR.
Later in a press conference, Lopez said those who voted against her nomination were “influenced by business interests.”
“If government co-opts to big businesses, then what hope does the poor have? What message are we giving here? If you wanna be confirmed, don’t go against big businesses,” Lopez said.
“When our lawmakers don’t stand for the constitutional right of every Filipino and rather be influenced by business interests, it’s wrong,” she added.
Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of the CA committee on environment, earlier predicted a “50-50 chance” for Lopez, whose nomination garnered over 30 oppositions.
At least 12 of the oppositions filed against her were about the order to close and suspend mining operations. Lopez also canceled the contracts of 75 mining companies.
On Tuesday, the last of the three confirmation hearings, Lopez was quizzed on the basis of her memorandum imposing a P2-million trust fund per hectare of land disturbed by miners.
Lopez said her January 30 memorandum was based on her “prerogative.”
Pacquiao noted the vote did not go as he “personally wanted to” but that the “decision of the majority” should be respected.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Sen. Loren Legarda and members of the Liberal Party (LP) in the commission led by Senator Francis Pangilinan, manifested on record that they voted in favor of the appointment of Lopez.
Some members of the CA have earlier told Lopez to base her decisions on the law, and not merely on passion for the protection of the environment.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez earlier said Lopez failed to observe due process when she ordered to close mining operations.
Dominguez said Lopez failed to consult the Departments of Labor and Employment, and Social Welfare, both of which would have to bear the potential impact of her orders.
The Department of Finance earlier estimated a total revenue loss of P821 million from 16 local government units once the closure and suspension orders take effect.
The orders are currently under review of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), co-chaired by Lopez and Dominguez. — VDS/RSJ, GMA News