SENATOR Panfilo Lacson on Friday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s “lobby money talks” remark regarding the decision of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to reject the appointment of environmentalist Regina Paz
“Gina” Lopez as Environment secretary was a “sweeping assault” on the integrity of a constitutional body.
Lacson, a member of the powerful appointments body, said that while the President’s comment did not apply to him, he still considered such a statement inappropriate and uncalled for.
“It is a sweeping assault not only on the integrity of the members of the CA who voted for rejection but the CA itself, being an independent constitutional body,” Lacson said.
Lacson was among the 16 members of the body who voted against the appointment of Lopez during a closed-door session last May 3.
Even if voting was done in secret, some senators who were part of the body admitted that they voted in favor of Lopez during the body’s plenary session.
Duterte on Thursday admitted he was saddened by the decision of the appointments body.
“Gina is a loss. I really like her passion. But…you know how it is. This is democracy and lobby money talks. I do not control everything. I am the head of the executive department,” said Duterte in a speech before a convention of orthopedic doctors in Davao City.
Lacson, in explaining his vote, said the confirmation of a presidential appointee or nominee, especially a Cabinet member, follows two basic criteria: fitness and competence.
Passion and enthusiasm do not automatically translate to fitness or competence, Lacson said.
“Ms. Regina Paz Lopez obviously has a lot of passion and enthusiasm, but evidently, in my own observation and analysis of her performance during the entire confirmation proceedings, she is not fit for the job nor is she qualified,” Lacson said.
Lopez, Lacson said, admittedly “arrogated” upon herself authority not prescribed under laws, which makes her “potentially dangerous” as a department head.