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Gina Lopez sees hidden agenda behind graft complaint

By: - Reporter / @jgamilINQ
/ 09:28 AM January 19, 2017
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Gina Lopez INQUIRER FILE PHOTO / RICHARD A. REYES

MANILA — Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has lashed out at the complaint filed against her and several officials of the Department of the Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), at the Ombudsman, over the agency’s air monitoring stations, expressing doubts as to the “agenda” of the complainants.

The latest development in the same allegations against Lopez include a petition to bar her confirmation with the Commission on Appointments.

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“The motives behind this whole campaign, using blatant lies, leave much to be doubted,” Lopez said, in a press conference at the DENR main office on Wednesday. “It’s not about clean air. It’s about punching holes in my credibility.”

Last week, the United Filipino Consumers and Commuters president Rodolfo Javellana Jr. and Airboard Company managing partner Manuel Galvez filed a complaint with the Ombudsman against Lopez and three other DENR officials, blaming them for procuring reportedly inaccurate air quality monitoring equipment.

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In an earlier interview, Lopez had already countered that the “inaccurate” data “doesn’t mean it’s corruption. It could mean the machines are just not calibrated.”

“The machines do need calibration. And I have given instructions to fix it. They’re accusing someone whose passion is for clean air,” Lopez complained.

DENR-Environmental Managament Bureau officer-in-charge Director Jacqueline Caancan added her office has, since last year, been “investigating” the status and performance of the machines. The results of the investigation are expected by Feb. 15.

As for her alleged inaction on her subordinates, Lopez said: “I don’t sack [people] on mere allegations. I have zero tolerance for corruption. If you have evidence, they’re out.”

“Why are they [complainants] doing this? And just before I declare results of the mining audit [on Jan. 31]. Go figure,” Lopez said.

Lopez noted that Galvez was selling “data loggers” incompatible with the air quality monitoring machines of the DENR.

Meanwhile, the President of the Coalition of Clean Air Advocates of the Philippines (CCAAP), Herminio Buerano, also joined Lopez’ press conference to clarify that the CCAAP “never authorized anyone to file a case” against Lopez.

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Earlier, Lopez traced the “smear campaign” against her to CCAAP Vice President for Communications and Public Relations Mike Aragon, who had acted as consultant to the DENR under the previous administration and in the early days of Lopez’ administration, and who had been sending the press releases regarding the issue on the air monitoring equipment.

Lopez told the Inquirer in an earlier interview that she has had a falling out with Aragon.

“I didn’t like the fact he [Aragon] made so many promises before. And in the beginning I trusted him, but in the end I said I want nothing to do with him anymore. And then he comes up with this,” Lopez said.

“Someone’s backing this smear campaign, clearly,” Lopez said.  SFM

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TAGS: Agenda, air monitoring stations, Airboard Company, Coalition of Clean Air Advocates of the Philippines, Commission on Appointments, Crime, Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Environmental Managament Bureau, Gina Lopez, Government contracts, Graft, graft complaint, Herminio Buerano, investigation, Jacqueline Caancan, Justice, law, Manuel Galvez, motives, Office of the Ombudsman, Politics, procurement, Rodolfo Javellana Jr., smear campaign, United Filipino Consumers and Commuters
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