Duterte appeases Congress over ‘lobby money’ remark
President Duterte himself has clarified his claim that “lobby money” was behind the Commission on Appointments’ (CA) rejection of Gina Lopez as Environment secretary, Malacañang said on Wednesday.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Mr. Duterte told Cabinet officials that he did not mean to say lawmakers were bribed to reject Lopez.
Lobbying does not necessarily involve money, said Abella, adding that Mr. Duterte made the clarification during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.
“He said basically that [lobbying] is a legal thing that you can actually exercise in order to persuade one particular position,” Abella quoted Mr. Duterte as saying.
“He was saying, in a sense, he was clarifying last night it was not a pejorative accusation that money was transferred or that money was exchanged,” he added.
When it was pointed out to him that the term “lobby money” came from the President, he said Mr. Duterte only glossed his remark.
He also said he could not say if the President’s explanation would stop the proposed congressional probe of the alleged “lobby money” statement.
“But certainly, he clarified his position, he added more light to his statement,” he added.
As for the supposed pressure to reject Lopez, Abella said this had come from “interested parties,” but the President did not specify who these were.
On the other hand, Sen. Panfilo Lacson, who was one of those who voted against Lopez and was offended by the President’s remark, said it was time to move on from the CA lobby issue.
“Now that the President has clarified his statement, it’s time to move on from the ugly Lopez episode in the Commission on Appointments,” Lacson said after the Palace’s clarification.
Lacson said he did not regret his decision knowing he did “the right thing” based on his evaluation.
He said that he felt it necessary to explain why he did not vote for Lopez’s confirmation despite the CA’s secret voting system because he wanted to “set the record straight.”—LEILA B. SALAVERRIA
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