Wednesday July 18, 2018

Lawmakers express dismay over rejection of Gina Lopez

SEVERAL lawmakers on Wednesday were left disappointed after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected the confirmation of Regina Paz "Gina" Lopez as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).

In her manifestation addressed to President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Loren Legarda said the rejection of Lopez was "unfortunate" considering the accomplishments she has done in a year.

"In such a short time, in less than a year of service, Gina Lopez has already done a lot as DENR Secretary. She could have done so much more if we had given her the chance. I wish my support would have been enough, but we have rules to follow," Legarda said.

According to Legarda, DENR under Lopez's leadership has undertaken an assessment of mining firms, closure of illegal quarrying operations in Mt. Banahaw, dismantling of illegal structures in Laguna Lake, and intensified operations in illegal logging hotspots in the country.

For his part, Senator Franklin Drilon said Liberal Party lawmakers threw their support behind Lopez but they still failed to beat the majority.

"The Liberal Party as a bloc voted to confirm the appointment of Secretary Lopez. Unfortunately, we lost in the vote. [It's] sad. The Liberal Party would have wanted to see Secretary Lopez carry out her programs, but it's democracy and that's our system," Drilon said.

Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate expressed "grave disappointment" over Lopez's rejection.

"We hope that the Palace will appoint a successor that will also approximate, if not exceed, Sec. Gina's ardent advocacy for the environment and no nonsense fight against destructive mining and corporate greed."

Meanwhile, Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin said Lopez was a "catalyst" for change and lauded her dedication as DENR chief.

"For the past few months, we saw her unparalleled passion, commitment, and will to do what she thought was right, only to be downtrodden by vested business interests that pervade from within the rotten core of this government," Villarin said.

Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao said it is alarming that Lopez's "pro-people" policies might be reversed in favor of the mining corporations' interest.

"With DENR Secretary Gina Lopez' rejection, we raise the alarm for vigilance against the reversal of her pro-people decisions on mining operations that gravely affected communities of indigenous people, farmers, fisherfolk and other sectors," Casilao said.

Only eight out of the 25-man CA panel voted to install Lopez to the DENR.

Lopez is the second cabinet member of Duterte to be rejected by the CA after former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay. (SunStar Philippines)