MANILA - Malacañang on Wednesday said the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte was both pro-environment and pro-responsible mining, as the government continued to deal with the rejection of the appointment of erstwhile Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the debate over whether or not Lopez was the rightful person for the DENR portfolio "quickly polarized supporters between pro-environment and pro-mining" factions.
He said, the debate over Lopez' appointment caused the public to miss "the position of the Duterte Administration, which is pro- environment and pro-responsible mining."
Duterte has been criticized by some groups and lawmakers for not fighting for the appointment of Lopez, who was rejected by the bicameral Commission on Appointments last week.
One of Duterte's political foes, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, said the president had fed Lopez "to the lions."
Abella issued this statement as the Palace again defended the president over his earlier insinuation that CA members voted against Lopez after getting lobby money from pro-mining groups.
"The President reiterates that he does not doubt the integrity of the Senate and the House of Representatives," Abella said.
"The way the issues were framed seemed to imply a 'lobby' - or, an activity of a group (or groups) representing certain interests seeking to influence an outcome," he added.
Abella said that while Duterte mentioned the term "lobby," he did not mean bribery.
"He does not mean that the members of the Commission on Appointments were financially persuaded to take a position on Ms. Lopez' appointment."
Duterte has tapped former general Roy Cimatu to take Lopez' vacated post. In a press briefing on Tuesday, Abella Duterte appointed Cimatu because he felt the latter can balance the concerns of environmentalists and mining groups.