Terminated CA hearings on Lopez disappoint solon
Occidental Mindoro Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato on Sunday expressed disappointment that the Commission on Appointments (CA) committee on natural resources decided to terminate the public hearing on the appointment of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
Sato is a member of the powerful commission, which only last week unanimously rejected the appointment of Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., believing that he lied to the committee about his citizenship.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao, the committee chair, said he and its members would meet on Tuesday for an executive session to determine their action on Lopez’s appointment, which faced a long queue of opponents on Thursday.
In her statement, Sato expressed admiration for Lopez’s passion for protecting the environment but that the controversial secretary, being an alter ego of the President, “should ensure they know the laws which they swore to uphold and enforce by heart.”
Sato said the law “may be harsh, it may be flawed, but that is the law.”
“I am very much willing to hear from her what needs to be done and I will file a bill in the House of Representatives to make that happen. But it has to be done within the purview of the law. Any gaps in the law must be dealt with by amending the law or enactment of another law,” Sato said.
Sato, a lawyer, said she asked the appointees “difficult questions to bring out the best in the nominees … to gauge their competence and not [as] a personal attack.”
Sato, a member of the ecology committee at the House of Representatives, found problematic Lopez’s “definition of a watershed, her views on the Mining Industry Coordinating Council review of her mine closures and contract-cancellation orders and her decision to designate people of her choice to important positions at the expense of organic personnel of the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources).”
“As far as hiring of consultants is concerned, it is her prerogative to bring in her own team, but there is a law that protects civil servants against unjust removal from government positions,” Sato said.
Sato said there was “sweeping demoralization” among DENR employees after Lopez hired consultants and some officials were unjustly removed when she [Lopez] brought in her team to take over certain positions.”
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