CA suspends Lopez’s confirmation to hear more oppositors

MANILA — The confirmation of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was suspended until Thursday to allow more oppositors to be heard, the Commission on Appointments (CA) said Wednesday.

CA Environment Committee Chair Sen. Manny Pacquiao said that there are currently over 20 people, mostly congressmen, who have filed sworn oppositions to Lopez’s confirmation.

“We would want to hear all oppositors to be fair,” Pacquiao said.

Lopez’s next confirmation hearing was scheduled ahead of her scheduled overseas trip on Friday night.

During the confirmation hearing, Lopez expressed confidence that the agency can get the Philippines out of poverty by taking care of environment which can eventually lead to economic growth.

Lopez noted that she had zero tolerance for corruption and that she would not allow the country to suffer for the benefit of business interests.

She again brought up that some of her oppositors have mining interests to protect.

One of them is San Juan City Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, whose brother, Manuel, is currently chairman of mining company Nickel Asia Corporation.

“You can tell your brother you totally killed the mountain. You better tell him to behave,” a feisty Lopez told Zamora.

Lopez previously ordered the closure and suspension of several metallic mines for serious environmental violations discovered.

First oppositor Manuel Galvez of Clean Air Advocates pointed out that Lopez was “incompetent” and needed to study the environment further. In response, Lopez stressed that achieving clean air was her “passion.”

In an interview with reporters, Lopez said that although she is not a “technical” person, her dedication to eradicate poverty through environmental initiatives made her a worthy member of the cabinet.

“Do you want a technical guy only? What is important in a cabinet minister? Is it technical, is it integrity, is it development experience? I want to help the Filipino people and I know that by taking care of the environment it is possible,” Lopez said.

“What do you prefer? Someone who knows all the laws or someone that’s been able to make a difference? I’ve been able to eradicate poverty in some areas,” she added.

She stressed that it is impossible for a cabinet official to have “all” the qualifications. (PNA) JBP/ANP and Nowilyn Pegollo