Pacquiao: Lopez’s confirmation as DENR chief ‘50-50’
Sen. Emmanuel “Manny” Pacquiao on Tuesday said designated Environment Sec. Gina Lopez has a 50 percent chance of being confirmed as her appointment faced strong opposition, largely due to her mining crackdown strongly protested by the mining industry and affected communities.
Pacquiao, chair of the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) committee on environment and natural resources, told reporters that such was the sense he gathered from his colleagues in the bicameral body.
He said Lopez, currently on a retreat abroad, would also be bypassed as her nomination would remain pending when Congress holds its final session Wednesday before going on a break.
Pacquiao said she would have to be reappointed. His committee would then set a hearing sometime May, when Lopez would again be invited to face the powerful appointments body.
“Right now, I spoke to some, I asked them—I don’t want to force them on anything because they have their own decision… But I just asked them to get their pulse. May chance naman, pero 50-50 eh (There’s a chance, but it’s 50-50),” Pacquiao told reporters after his committee held a caucus Monday.
He noted how the hearings on Lopez’s nomination seemed to have become “the longest confirmation hearing for a Secretary,” with 23 oppositors given the chance to speak out why they are against the official’s appointment.
“I really gave the chance for both sides—the oppositors’ side and the appointee’s side. I have them time to explain. We can’t be biased. There has to be due process,” Pacquiao said.
“I’m sure this will be finished [by May] because this has taken a long time… I’m sure the President, he will reappoint her,” he said.
He said his committee would furnish Lopez a copy of its roughly two-hour caucus Monday, where the body heard from Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, who co-chairs the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC).
Speaking before the body, Dominguez said Lopez violated due process when she ordered the shutdown of 23 mines and suspended operations of five others. Operations of these mines, however, continue as Lopez’s order is under appeal, with the MICC undertaking a review on President Rodrigo Duterte’s orders.
Pacquiao said Lopez would be given a chance to respond when hearings continue in May. RAM/rga
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