Philippine lawmaker says '50-50 chance' of Lopez losing environment minister job

May 04, 2017, 01:21
Philippine lawmaker says '50-50 chance' of Lopez losing environment minister job

Philippine lawmakers today rejected the appointment of Regina Lopez as environment minister, 10 months into her term in office, confirming an earlier Reuters report.The Commission on Appointments moved to reject the appointment made by President Rodrigo Duterte who has largely supported Lopez's mining crackdown.

The powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) yesterday rejected the nomination of Regina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), the second appointee of President Duterte booted out by the bicameral body from the Cabinet.

The appointment of Lopez to the post has been clobbered with controversies, particularly after she ordered the closure of 23 mining operations and suspended five others.

Asked why the filing of the complaint coincided with the CA's decision, Kapunan said they were encouraged by the latest pronouncements from the environment chief that she would not be deterred by criticisms against her.

Ms Lopez had shuttered dozens of mines for a variety of infractions, driving nickel prices to a year high.

"I believe in my heart no matter how several big people may be against Gina, she will always stand on what is morally and environmentally right and righteous", said Pacquiao, referring to Lopez by her nickname.

"You know, you ought to know that you, every Filipino have the Constitutional right to live healthy lives. There are those who are in favor of her and there are those against her", Pacquiao said.

Lopez said she is willing to accept the decision of the CA as she maintained that her decisions on various issues have legal basis.

Also on Wednesday, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lashed out at lawmakers for rejecting Lopez's appointment.

Duterte picked Lopez because of her record as an activist dedicated to the poor, whose previous initiatives had included reforestation, safeguarding areas of biodiversity and cleaning up the Pasig river that flows through Manila.

An environmental group in Mindanao, which hosts a province where an open pit mining ban stands for nearly seven years now, strongly supported Monday the decision of Environment Secretary Regina Paz "Gina" Lopez to ban such method across the Philippines.

Perfecto Yasay was in March dumped as foreign secretary when the commission on appointments ruled he had lied in congressional hearings about him holding American citizenship.

"Truth needs courage. If I don't act the truth and if I don't act courageously a part of me will die inside". Nickel futures on the London Metal Exchange slumped more than 2 percent as news of Lopez's ouster spread.

President Rodrigo Duterte can not reappoint Lopez and has yet to name a replacement.

Lopez explained, "Who suffers if you kill the environment?"

Her radical reforms eventually proved too radical even for a country with a strong anti-mining lobby led by the influential Roman Catholic Church.

"It shows how the greedy politicians connected with big mining and logging corporations dominate the composition of Congress", the advocacy group said in a statement.

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