CA rejects Gina Lopez

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THE powerful Commission on Appointments on Wednesday rejected the ad-interim appointment of environmentalist Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), putting a stop to her crackdown on mining companies.

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Lopez failed to get the nod of the 24-member appointments body after three confirmation hearings conducted by its committee on the environment and natural resources, where she was grilled on her policies and competence to lead the DENR.

The decision on whether to confirm or reject her appointment was done through secret balloting during an executive session that was attended by all members of the appointments body, composed of 12 senators and 12 representatives.

Only eight members voted to confirm Lopez while 16 voted to reject her appointment.

Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao, chairman of the environment committee, presented the recommendation of the panel before a plenary session.

“With sadness in my heart, this committee, through this plenary, is terminating its deliberation on Gina Lopez’s appointment, not in the way I personally wanted to, but by the decision of the majority which I am sorry [for], but we must all respect,” said the boxer-turned-legislator.

Pacquiao described the deliberation on the ad-interim appointment of Lopez as the longest and most dramatic in the appointment body’s history, witnessed by Filipinos on live television and social media.

“To my mind, this is not only Gina’s fight for the environment but a fight between Filipino versus Filipinos who both need the environment – one group to use it and the other to preserve it,” he added.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd and Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito took the floor and revealed that they had voted to confirm Lopez, a scion of the Lopez business clan whose interests range from infrastructure to broadcasting.

“Mr. President, Gina Lopez should be recognized because it took a lady secretary to have the guts to go against the brazen violations of big-time miners,” Ejercito said.

Senator Francis Pangilinan also took the floor on behalf of the erstwhile ruling Liberal Party contingent in the Senate that backed Lopez.

“We would like to place on record that we likewise voted for the confirmation of Secetary Gina Lopez, because we believe in her qualification and her abilities to lead the DENR,” he said.

“This feat is admirable, and I share her conviction that no amount of income contributions to the country’s GDP (gross domestic product) can compensate for the environmental destruction and negative impacts of mining operations,” he added.

Lopez on February ordered the closure of 23 mines and suspended the operations of five others, a move that was rejected by the mining lobby and some lawmakers.

Lopez was the second appointee of President Rodrigo Duterte rejected by the Commission on Appointments, after Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., who failed to get the body’s nod because of questions on his citizenship.

Senate President and Commission on Appointments Chairman Aquilino Pimentel 3rd said Lopez ceased to be DENR chief the moment he banged the gavel.

“This is the constitutional body that determines fitness to be secretary of a certain department,” he said.

Mining stocks up
With the Philippines being the world’s biggest supplier of nickel ore and a major source of copper, Lopez’s campaign had impacted global prices.

Global nickel and copper prices fell by just over 2 percent each in London trade on Wednesday, with financial services company Commerzbank saying concerns in the market about prolonged supply cuts in the Philippines had been allayed.

The Chamber of Mines released a statement on Wednesday thanking the commission for its quick decision, which it said was “the beginning of a new chapter for the mining industry.”

At the Philippine Stock Exchange, the mining and oil index rose 2.73 percent. Apex Mining, Benguet Corp., Lepanto Mining, and Manila Mining were among the day’s biggest gainers in the local bourse.

Environment groups expressed outrage, arguing Lopez’s rejection showed Duterte had misled with his pledges to lead a government for ordinary Filipinos rather than the elite.

“The rejection demonstrates the continued control of powerful destructive industries such as mining in the country’s legislative houses, and the reform promised to Filipinos is a sham,” the Green Thumb coalition, grouping dozens of environment groups, said in a statement.

Miners had run a high-profile campaign to have the Commission on Appointments reject Lopez, arguing she was jeopardizing the lives of 1.2 million people who were dependent on the industry.

It had strong supporters in the congressional commission, with its vice chairman, Ronaldo Zamora, a former director of Nickel Asia, the country’s second most valuable mining company.

Zamora’s older brother, Manuel, is the current Nickel Asia chairman. Like all mining stocks, Nickel Asia’s share price rose on Wednesday after Lopez’s sacking.

Another opponent of Lopez was Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez 3rd, a former mining executive whose family has big investments in the industry.

Dominguez took the unprecedented action of testifying against a fellow Cabinet member when he told the commission hearings that Lopez should be rejected.

WITH AFP

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18 Comments

  1. Although Gina Lopez was not confirmed. Duterte will let the cancellation of the 75 mining contract stand. The mining companies who want to do business have to follow strict regulations.

  2. One needs to struggle his way into government employment, he would first make the right connections and then end up as de facto regulatory-captured bureaucrat that big mining companies find comfortable with. Otherwise, his appointment must run a confirmation gauntlet of heavily-biased verdict from players of pros and cons great divide. This scenario is best exhibited by members of the dreaded Commission (or) on Appointment’s recent action on embattled Gina Lopez’s appointment as DENR Secretary. Likewise, we remember the late DILG Secretary Jessie Lobredo’s confirmation long delayed but overwhelmingly, was quickly confirmed only after his untimely death – was awarded to him post mortem!

    Pope Francis decried inequality last Lengthen Season, the “scandalous reality of a world still marked by the divide between the endless number of indigent” contrasted to the “tiny portion of those who possess the majority of riches and presume to decide the fates of humanity.”

  3. There’s no such as “responsible mining”, this is invented by investors. It is true that business interest prevails over people welfare.

  4. dating kriminal on

    What the president should do is to put Gina Lopez Back as Undersecretary of DENR, and leave the Secretary position open. Gina Lopez would then be able to continue what she started. Undersecretaries of Agencies such as DENR do not need to be confirmed by CA? Is there a law that PRDU30 must pick another candidate to occupy the secretary’s position right away? If the CA inform the President that Undersecretary can only serve for six moths or so, as head of an agency, so be it, and extend her to occupy that position every six months, to make it look like the President is in compliance with the law, pagkatapos murahin mo sila ng pabulong…..

  5. We all have the right to earn a living and the right to property. Majority of the Surigaonons are happy of the decision. Mining companies are ligitimate businessness, why hate them so much? Gina cannot help us send our children to school. So far she have not contributed anything to help our place. Businessmen are not criminals, they create thousands of jobs for the people. Without them the government will go BANKRUPT! It is the businesses including mines that sustain our economy.

  6. This is a sad day for the Philippines when somebody like Gina Lopez who is committed to the good of the country and the adherence to the laws of the country, can fail to be confirmed by the CA.

    Who are those in the CA who rejected her appointment? Let us have their names and the reasons they have rejected Gina?

    Talk of oligarchs running the country? Are those people in the CA who rejected Gina fronting for the oligarchs? Let us see some leadership from Duterte on how he reacts to this issue of non-confirmation of Gina Lopez.

  7. Pensador de Manila on

    I am honestly very sad of Gina’s Lopez fate in the hands of the commission of appointment. We should know who were at their back and as well as the likes of those people in the commission of appointment who were there at their air-conditioned offices supposedly to do business for the people and not for private companies’ profiteering businesses in the mining industries without due respect for the people living nearby of the mining operations and to the environment itself. The Philippines is very small country. If President Du30 were to allow the ongoing destruction of the environment after Gina Lopez courageously suspended these mining companies for doing mining without following the right procedures of taking out earth minerals without respect to the environment and to the people living nearby, we would altogether be the scavengers of our own country, because we have no soil to till, we have nothing in our own land to shelter us from heat and storm. The crusade of Gina Lopez to protect and preserve the environment is not for herself, not for a single person or company, but for all of us and for the future generations of our beloved country. I just find a group of people in our society who are too selfish and greedy, unconcerned and irresponsible of their duties to the people who voted for them to work for the people welfare. So, now that Gina Lopez is out, what other option we do have today?

  8. Ernie Ileto on

    Dominguez has interests in mining. He should not have participated. He is a typical oligarch who only thinks of ways to advance his intere$t$ at the expense of the Filipino people especially those who have lost their fishing grounds, farmlands and drinking water as a result of the toxic mining.

    This article is titled “CA rejects Gina Lopez”, but why does the article not have the list of names of CA members who rejected the appointment of Gina Lopez? Isn’t reporting the complete facts what journalism is about? Don’t tell me somebody received dirty mining money to not publish those names!

  9. dating mandaraya` on

    Mining lobbyists have control to most of the senators and congressmen that comprise the Commission on Appointments and several of them hold interests on several mining company. They have tons of money to spend on lobbyists and they can always “BUY” any legislations in their favor, doing everything necessary just to make tons of money, even at the expense of the environment, the people, and the country in general. Greedy? it seems like it and all Gina Lopez wanted is responsible mining practices and comply with mining laws and she is doing these for the Filipino people and the next generations to come. These legislators should have recused themselves as members of Commission of Appointments because “conflict of interest”. Isn’t it that there is a law on this? or is it only in the Philippines? There is also laws on responsibilities and accountability of government officials. Senators and Congress(wo)men seem to be above the laws because the laws were not complied with. What is wrong with us? or are these just Filipino things?

  10. Politicians who rejected Gina’s appointment loves more their pockets, they don’t care for our children’s futures, MGA GAHAMAN KAYO SA pera!

  11. Ilang milyon kayang PALIWANAG ang ibinigay ng mga mining companies sa mga tongresmen kaya nila inireject ang appointment ni Ms Lopez bilang DENR secretary?

  12. pinoylang po on

    The real colors come out when there is a vested interest that needs to be protected. Hey the president nominated the lady how can we go against the wisdom of DU.

  13. Vagoneto Rieles on

    Ms. Lopez comes from ‘Big Business’; her family being long-time entrepreneurs themselves. She couldn’t have a bias ‘against’ the business of responsible ‘Mining’ as a business…the operative word being ‘responsible’. If she has a bias at all, it is ‘for’ the environment, and the country’s natural resources. She is passionate about the restoration of the lands and rivers that, today, looks irreparable; and, for the strict adherence to mining regulations, which, quite expectedly, includes hefty fines on violators. On the fact of those mine workers who were adversely affected by Ms. Lopez’ policies, they can find deliverance in their respective mining company-employers themselves. All these businesses have to do is comply with regulations…something expected of them in the first place. For these companies to turn the table and blame the regulator is contemptible, (although not surprising).
    It is hoped that this wouldn’t be the last time we hear from, or about, Gina Lopez. She is one heck of an uncompromising ‘environmentalist/executive’ that the country should have working in government now.

  14. Selfish Congressmen and Senators who voted against the confirmation of Sec. Lopez

    • One thing i can be proud of myself is that i did not vote for Cayetano because he is a beneficiary of DAP of Pnoy and now a beneficiary of mining company. THUMBS DOWN TO YOU PLASTIC CAYETANO!!!

  15. atong noce on

    Dominguez, based on this report is a biased person. He is not thinking what is good for the country. His thought was simply to make his family earned more money at the expense of the environment.