MANILA - The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has "miserably failed in its regulatory function," Environment secretary Gina Lopez said Thursday, as she pledged to reform the agency.
Lopez, who is leading a crackdown on destructive mining, told the Commission on Appointments that she committed to President Rodrigo Duterte that she would end corruption the the DENR
The department, in the past, had granted Environment Compliance Certificates to the undeserving, she said.
"Any regulatory agency is a seedbed of corruption," she said.
Davao Oriental Rep. Joel Mayo Almario urged Lopez to "hasten and fast track" probes against erring officials of the DENR.
"It's a very simple paper trail. Kung merong (If there is an) Environment Compliance Certificate, who signed that document and who reviewed that?" Almario said.
Lopez said the agency has been weeding out corrupt agents from its ranks despite "lengthy procedures."
Lopez said at least 119 DENR officials have been charged while 17 others have been dismissed for questionable practices since she took office in 2016.
"While I am at the helm of DENR, should there be any evidence of corruption, following a paper trail of who did it, they will face the ax... One strike, out," Lopez said.