The Daily Manila Shimbun


“Lobby money talks” vs Lopez’s confirmation as DENR chief: Duterte

May 4, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday "lobby money talks" is the reason Gina Lopez was not confirmed by the Commission on Appointments as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). With such statement, Duterte indicated some members of the CA, composed of some senators and congressmen, have received money from some interest groups which have been opposing Lopez's appointment as DENR chief. The president admitted that he felt sorry that Lopez did not pass the confirmation process. "I really like her passion. But you know how it is. This is democracy and lobby money talks. I do not control everything," Duterte said. While he, as president, heads the executive department, Duterte said Congress is controlled by the Senate President and the House Speaker. "There are people whom I want, but I share powers. And that is the process of checks and balances. The President appoints but the appointee has to undergo the scrutiny of the Commission on Appointments, which is a combination of a committee from the lower house, the congressmen, and the upper house, which is the Senate," he explained. A Teacher Partylist Rep. Julieta Cortuna, a member of the 12-man House contingent to the 24-man appointments commission, said Lopez’s allegations that business interests counted in the decision to reject her nomination is “totally unfair.” “I am one of those who supports her passion but personally that was not enough,” said Cortuna. Cortuna said mining is just one of the basic services of the DENR. “What about illegal logging? Illegal titling that affects lives of the minority.” “She could not present concrete programs to those services I mentioned.. It is just the negative impact of mining. How about the positive side if there are responsible companies? It can’t just be media mileage,” said Cortuna. Lopez's appointment as DENR secretary has been strongly opposed by the mining sector after her orders against some mining projects. During the past 10 months as head of the DENR, Lopez ordered the closure of 23 mining sites and suspension of the operations of five others for allegedly violating the environmental and mining laws. She also ordered the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements with mining companies operating within or near watershed areas. Lopez also came out with an administrative order requiring suspended mining companies to set aside P2 million per hectare of "disturbed land" for farmers before they are allowed to transport their stockpiles. She also imposed a ban on open-pit mining. The ban covers "open-pit method of mining for copper, gold, silver and complex ores." Duterte has yet to appoint an officer-in-charge or Lopez's replacement at DENR. (Celerina Monte/DMS)