MANILA – (UPDATE) The Commission on Appointments deferred action on Environment Secretary Gina Lopez, effectively bypassing her, one of its members said Tuesday.
This means President Rodrigo Duterte will have to reappoint Lopez, who has riled the mining industry by ordering the shutdown or suspension of 28 mines and threatening to cancel 75 contracts.
"Secretary Lopez's ad interim appointment is considered bypassed," Senator Manny Pacquiao told reporters. "In May, we will (re)open the hearing. We still have a lot of questions for her."
Congress will go on recess on March 18 and will resume sessions on May 2.
On the eve of the commission’s hearing, Duterte pledged support for Lopez as he criticized the mineral industry for destroying the environment and said he was considering a total mining ban.
“Give me a redeeming factor. Give me a redeeming -- something which I can hang on to to drop Gina. Walang redeeming factor (There is no redeeming factor),” he said.
Lopez faced the the CA for two days last week, where she justified her actions against the mines and sought a “way forward” with companies that comply with environment laws.
During the same hearings, the Chamber of Mines told lawmakers that Lopez was “unfit and unqualified” for the job, as it denied being “environmental rapists.” -- with reports from Adrian Ayalin, ABS-CBN News and Reuters