Will Duterte reappoint Lopez? ‘It’s possible’

Jee Y. Geronimo
Will Duterte reappoint Lopez? ‘It’s possible’
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella does not give a categorical answer on Environment Secretary Gina Lopez' reappointment, but says the President 'appreciates' her concern for the environment

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Saturday, March 11, said it’s possible President Rodrigo Duterte will reappoint Environment Secretary Gina Lopez should she be bypassed by the Commission on Appointments (CA). 

Hindi po natin sinasabi iyon, pero puwedeng mangyari iyon. Opo,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in an interview with government-run radio dzRB on Saturday. (We can’t say that for sure, but it’s possible. Yes.)

The Presidential Spokesman could not categorically say for sure Lopez would get a second appointment after she was first bypassed in 2016.

Lopez faced members of the powerful CA this week in a two-day marathon confirmation hearing that saw her answering questions from both lawmakers and her oppositors.

At least two members of the CA – Senators Manny Pacquiao and Panfilo Lacson – said Lopez will likely be bypassed by the commission, while CA vice chair and San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora thinks the 25-member body does not have “enough time” to deliberate on Lopez’s ad interim appointment.

While the President said “nothing official” about Lopez’ appointment, Abella on Saturday noted that Duterte respects where Lopez is coming from and even tries to understand her statements on the environment.

“As far as I know, as far as we can see, we can tell, the President seems to appreciate…the concern of Ms Lopez regarding the environment,” he added.

But at the same time, he admitted there are different opinions about the environment secretary, especially among lawmakers and critics. (READ: Lopez’s game plan at confirmation hearing: ‘Tell the truth’)

May mga ilang mga nagsasalita rin na may opinyon katulad ni [columnist] Ms.[Winnie] Monsod. Sinasabi niya na sa totoo lang eh hindi naman ganoon kalaki talaga ang nabibigay ng mining sa ano, sa… pero ‘yun ang opinyon po nila ito,” he added. 

(There are others who also express their opinion, like Ms Monsod. She said in reality, the contribution of the mining industry is not that big… But that’s their opinion.)

“So…there are varied opinions and [they have] to be weighed.”

Duterte support?

Lopez in February ordered the closure or suspension of 28 mining operations, and the cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements in watersheds all over the country.

Her decisions irked many in the mining industry, with the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines even filing a formal opposition against Lopez before the CA. (READ: Chamber of Mines: Lopez ‘unfit, unqualified’ to be DENR secretary)

Her order to shut down or suspend mines is also the subject of an ongoing review by the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, of which Lopez is co-chair.

But she revealed during her confirmation hearing that she already gave the President a “memo” where she “seriously questioned spending P50 million for a function the MICC is not mandated to do.”

Duterte has time and again expressed his support for Lopez, even reappointing her as secretary when the CA bypassed her in 2016.

Under new CA rules that will take effect soon, members are mandated to vote – either to reject or confirm – on the appointment of a nominee who has been bypassed thrice. – Rappler.com


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Jee Y. Geronimo

Jee is part of Rappler's Central Desk, handling most of the world, science, and environment stories on the site. She enjoys listening to podcasts and K-pop, watching Asian dramas, and running long distances. She hopes to visit Israel someday to retrace the steps of her Savior.