President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday expressed his support for Environment Secretary Regina Paz “Gina” Lopez who will again face the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday.
In a speech during the Department of Agriculture’s event in Malacañang, Duterte appealed to the CA to “listen” to Lopez.
“You know, you just cannot ignore also the cries of Gina Lopez. I know that we get something like P70 billion in taxes from mining. But you should also allow Gina to present her case. And I would like to ask Congress to look at it closely and she would show you how devastated the environment is,” Duterte said.
The President said he hoped a “happy compromise” would be struck “more on the side of protecting the public interest.”
“I want my country to earn so I’m not saying that I’m against mining per se, that I’m against big mining — far from that actually. I know that we need the dollars but somehow we have to look at the other way, in a different perspective, so just look at it,” he said.
The mining industry had protested Lopez’s decision to shut down or suspend 28 mines and her threat to cancel up to 75 contracts, saying they were denied due process.
Duterte said the Philippines would face a “crisis” if mining is allowed without controls.
“We have to I think come up with a code or a set of whatever, protocol of how to go about controlling mining,” he said.
Rough ride for Yasay
Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., who will also face the CA today, is likely to be grilled over his allegedUS citizenship.
Yasay’s confirmation has been deferred because of questions on his citizenship following reports that he is a holder of a US passport.
Yasay had maintained that he only owns a passport issued by the Philippine government.
He also told the CA that he never acquired US citizenship, although he admitted applying for naturalization and for a green card.
But in a television interview Monday, the foreign affairs secretary admitted being issued an American passport.
“I had an American passport but that has already been returned together with my naturalization certificate,” Yasay said.
Senator Panfilo Lacson, chairman of the CA committee on foreign affairs, said that many members of the panel are expected to question Yasay on the issue, particularly on his conflicting statements about his passport.
“There is a concern that he lied to the committee but I don’t think that constitutes perjury. We will see tomorrow how he will response to question regarding his citizenship,” Lacson said in an interview.
Sen. Vicente Sotto 3rd said that the chance of Yasay to get the panel’s nod could be bleak.
“If you can lie to the commission, you can lie to the people. At the moment it’s likely that he will have difficulty with the CA because of that particular incident,” Sotto said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd agreed that Yasay may have committed a serious offense but the CA will give him the chance to explain the inconsistencies in his statements. CATHERINE S. VALENTE AND JEFF ANTIPORDA