Manila Rep. Sandy Ocampo: I voted to confirm Gina Lopez
MANILA — Manila Rep. Rosenda Ann Ocampo said Thursday she voted “yes” to confirm Gina Lopez as environment secretary, refuting news reports that listed her as one of the 16 members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) to vote “no.”
“I voted for Gina. That is a fact,” she said.
In a phone call with the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Ocampo said she was surprised when her staff informed her of media reports identifying her as one of the 16 who rejected Lopez’ appointment to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
“I was surprised, so I texted Gina, and we had a series of exchanges. She said she believes me. How can I prove myself? From the start, I was championing her cause,” Ocampo said.
The Manila congresswoman was the only one in the 12-member House contingent in the CA who favored confirming Lopez, whose staunch anti-mining policies drew stiff objections and intense lobbying from the mining industry.
All the other “no” votes came from senators, or at least according to what they told the media.
Through a secret balloting, the CA voted 16-8 to reject Lopez’ appointment.
It was not immediately clear which senator had voted “no” to Lopez but later told reporters otherwise. To make matters more confusing, Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, the CA’s majority floor leader, said there had been an abstention.
“I don’t know the numbers,” said Ocampo.
Under CA rules, the members may face expulsion or dismissal if they violate the secrecy rule on matters discussed in executive session.
Ocampo said she had tried “at the last minute” to maneuver so that Lopez could be bypassed only, and then possibly be reappointed again.
In postings on her public Facebook account, she said she supported Lopez from the beginning but that the odds were stacked against Lopez. “It was truly an uphill battle for Secretary Gina Lopez in the CA in spite of wide public support [for her],” she said.
“Even those among her supporters admit her quirkiness and eccentricities that were not looked at kindly and scoffed [at] by those who wanted her replaced. If only the vote of her supporters among the public were counted , then we would all be celebrating now, Ocampo said.
The congresswoman said she had tried in vain to convince her fellow CA members to support Lopez.
“I tried my best to consolidate, cajole and convince both the House and Senate contingents to vote for Gina today! We need more people like Gina to serve in government to ensure meaningful change in government,” she said. SFM/rga