DUE to the powerful lobby of mining corporations, Senator Manny Pacquiao, chairman of the bicameral Commission on Appointments, has deferred until next week the appointment of environment advocate Gina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
Pacquiao, according to some political observers, seems to have been overwhelmed by the power of the lobbyists’ pressure as he later casually told a group of newsmen after the CA hearing that Lopez would definitely be bypassed by the committee.
“Definitely ma-ba bypass (siya). The President has to reappoint her,” Pacquiao said.
Nevertheless, Pacquiao went on with the motion of scheduling a caucus among the members of the environment panel next Tuesday to “assess the grievances of the 21 individuals and groups opposed to Lopez’s designation.”
Lopez has been the target of “demolition” by powerful interests behind the mining industry after she decided to strictly implement the mining laws of the country. The failure of the past administrations to reign in the abuses of unscrupulous mining corporations led to environment disasters in many parts of the country.
She bravely faced those who were against her confirmation as DENR secretary during the CA hearing Wednesday which lasted for eight hours only to be later told of Pacquiao’s decision to suspend the hearing.
For his part, San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora said the CA is not obligated to come up with any decision to confirm or reject Lopez’s appointment before Congress goes on a break next week.
“Kaya lang siyempre bago magkalimutan, remember,medyo mahaba itong break–that’s six weeks. Siguro mapag-usapan na din what has taken place. Iyung mga tanong, tama ba ‘yung mga tanong? Iyung mga sagot, tama ba ‘yung mga sagot? Iyan ang dapat naming pag-usapan,” he said.
Asked about the possibility that the CA will eventually vote on her confirmation during the caucus, Zamora said “Posible ‘yun kaya lang di ko masasagot ‘yun sapagkat ang dapat n’yong tanungin ‘yung chairman (Pacquiao).”
Pressed to assess the claims of Lopez’s opponents, Zamora said “Eh. Medyo mahaba ‘yung hearings natin, walong oras. Nakita naman n’yo na ‘yung mga nandito hindi naman nagsisinungaling ‘yan. Kaya importante matanong ‘yung mga concerns nila nasasagot ba ni Secretary Lopez?”
“Iyung mga issues na nilabas nila, ‘yung mga trabaho na mawawala, ‘yung income na (mawawala) talaga sapagkat isasara ‘yung hanapbuja nila. ‘yun ba ay mapapalitan ng isang green economy? Isang sistema na aasa sila sa eco-tourism ? Iyun ang mga plano ni secretary Lopez,” said Zamora.
“Siguro nakita naman n’yo ‘yung mga kasamahan namin. Iyung mga tanong nila legitimate questions: kung mawalan ng 10,000 jobs ano ang gagawin n’yo ngayon? Hindi ‘yung sa susunod, ‘di next year, or two years. Iyung bang at the end of two years do you get 200,000 jobs ba?” Zamora stressed.
”Gaya ng sinabi nung mga ibang nag-testify, ang trabaho namin nandito ngayon. Bakit pa n’yo papakialaman ‘yung mga trabaho na nandito na. Tapos sasabihin n’yo, ‘Anyway magkakaroon kayo ng trabaho sa susunod.’ Meron na kaming trabaho. Iyun ang sinsabi nila (na mga apektadong minero),” he added.