MANILA, Philippines – For two senators, President Rodrigo Duterte could have prevailed upon his allies in the Commission on Appointments (CA) to confirm the appointment of Gina Lopez if he really wanted to keep her as his environment secretary.
Senators Panfilo Lacson and Antonio Trillanes IV issued separate statements on Friday, May 5, a day after Duterte claimed that “lobby money” funded the CA’s rejection of Lopez.
Trillanes, who is not a CA member, said of Duterte’s claim: “I’m not buying it. Duterte fed Gina Lopez to the lions.”
The opposition senator said that based on what happened, he believed that the President did not really support the confirmation of Lopez.
“Contrary to the impression that he is backing Lopez all the way, Duterte didn’t lift a finger to influence the House members of the CA, most of whom would’ve gladly obeyed his wishes. Would these congressmen openly defy Duterte and reject Lopez if they are sure that he really wants her to be confirmed? Of course, they won’t,” he said.
Trillanes also dared Duterte to prove his vaunted anti-mining stance by appointing a “known anti-mining advocate” as environment chief.
Lacson, a CA member, took exception to Duterte’s “lobby money” allegation. He reiterated his explanation that he thumbed down Lopez as he saw her unfit and unqualified for the position.
“With certainty, the President’s ‘lobby money talks’ comment does not apply to me and I have already cited my reasons for rejecting Ms Lopez,” he said.
“Nevertheless, I think it is unfortunate if not 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 added.
He said that the CA, who has among its members Duterte’s staunchest allies in Congress, would have sought guidance from him regarding the vote on Lopez.
“I am almost sure, those members who are his staunchest allies in both houses of Congress, will not cast their votes without first seeking his guidance. Just to be clear, I am not referring to myself in this regard,” Lacson said.
The CA, after holding a secret vote on Lopez, rejected her appointment with a vote of 16-8. (READ: Is someone lying? CA votes on Gina Lopez don’t add up)
Half of the 8 votes for Lopez came from Liberal Party senators. Among those who voted against Lopez was Duterte’s staunchest ally and defender in the Senate, Senator Alan Peter Cayetano. – Rappler.com
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