MANILA, Philippines – Did President Rodrigo give his full support to Gina Lopez?
Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV doesn’t think so. He said Duterte could have thrown his weight behind her appointment if the President really wanted Lopez to continue leading the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
“I’m not buying it. Duterte fed Gina Lopez to the lions,” Trillanes said in a statement issued Friday, May 5.
“Contrary to the impression that he is backing Lopez all the way, Duterte didn’t lift a finger to influence the House members of the CA (Commission on Appointments), most of whom would’ve gladly obeyed his wishes,” the senator said.
Would these congressmen openly defy Duterte and reject Lopez if they are sure that he really wants her to be confirmed? Of course, they won’t.”
“Now, if Duterte is truly anti mining as he claims to be, he should again appoint a known anti-mining advocate as Lopez’s replacement as DENR secretary,” he added.
Chief presidential legal counsel denied Trillanes’ claims. He said Duterte had “passionately endorsed the DENR secretary.”
“But as he (Duterte) says, he cannot interfere with the functions of a co-equal branch but of course, he’s open to criticizing” the CA’s rejection of Lopez’s appointment.
On Thursday, Duterte insinuated that money could have had something to do with the non-confirmation of Lopez’s appointment.
“Eh you know how it is. This is a democracy and lobby money talks,” said Duterte.
Nevertheless, the President said his hands were tied. “I do not control everything. I am the head of the executive department…Congress is controlled by the Senate President and the Speaker.”
Duterte’s statement did not bode well for Sen. Panfilo Lacson.
“While I am sure the president’s ‘money lobby talks’ comment does not apply to me and I have already cited my reasons for rejecting Ms. Lopez, I think it is unfortunate if not inappropriate and uncalled for,” Lacson said in a statement issued Friday.
He said Duterte’s statement was a “sweeping assault not only on the integrity of the members of the CA who voted for rejection but the CA itself, being an independent constitutional body.”
“I am almost sure, those members who are his staunchest allies in both houses of Congress, will not cast their votes without first seeking his guidance. Just to be clear, I am not referring to myself in this regard,” said Lacson.