President Rodrigo Duterte has reappointed Environment Secretary Regina Lopez and three other Cabinet members who failed to get the nod of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
In a statement, the Palace announced that Duterte reappointed Lopez on an ad-interim basis along with Secretaries Rafael Mariano of the Department of Agrarian Reform, Judy Taguiwalo of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Paulyn Jean Ubial of the Department of Health.
The 25-member CA panel composed of senators and members of the House of Representatives bypassed the President’s appointment of the four Cabinet members due to opposition from several sectors.
But of the four, it was Lopez who was the most controversial because of her order to close mining companies found to have violated laws during a mining audit that she spearheaded.
She even told Rep. Ronaldo Zamora of San Juan, a member of the panel, that his brother Manny Zamora “killed a mountain.”
Lopez ordered the closure of Hinatuan Mining Corp., a subsidiary of Nickel Asia, as well as 21 other mining companies due to violations of the Mining Law. Not a single mining company, however, closed shop because the owners of the 22 companies affected by the closure order appealed Lopez’s decision before the Office of the President (OP).
Lopez, who has been bypassed twice by the CA, is also pushing for a P2 million trust fund per hectare of disturbed land as a result of mining operations. She argued that mining companies should provide for this before removing their ore stockpiles in mining sites.
Once the CA rejects an appointee three times, the President will have to replace the appointee.
The CA rejected the appointment of former Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay because he lied about his acquisition of American citizenship in the 1980s when questioned by the panel.