Lacson explains vote on Gina Lopez: ‘Not fit nor qualified for the job’
CONFIRMATION HEARING. Senator Panfilo Lacson talks to then environment secretary Gina Lopez before her confirmation hearing in March 2017. Photo from Senate of the Philippines Facebook page
MANILA, Philippines – Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Thursday, May 4, that he voted against the confirmation of Gina Lopez as environment chief as he believed she was neither fit nor qualified for the job.
Explaining his vote a day after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected the appointment of Lopez, Lacson cited "fitness and competence" as the basic criteria for confirmation of a presidential appointee but "passion and enthusiasm do not automatically translate into the two criteria."
"Ms Regina Paz Lopez obviously has a lot of passion and enthusiasm, but evidently, in my own observation and analysis of her performance during the entire confirmation proceedings, she is not fit for the job nor is she qualified," said the CA member.
"Worse, she admittedly arrogated unto herself the authority which is not prescribed under the existing laws of the land. That makes her potentially dangerous as a department head. Further, she has authoritarian tendencies," Lacson added.
During her confirmation hearings, CA members grilled Lopez on her mining-related decisions which, they believed, were against the law. Lopez insisted these were covered by her mandate as environment secretary.
This includes her order requiring suspended mining companies to give P2 million for every hectare of farmland affected by their activities. (READ: Mining Act ‘not enough’ basis for DENR order on stockpile – Sato)
During a hearing in March, Lacson quizzed Lopez on the requirements needed for mining companies to secure a mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA), followed by questions from other CA members who were also dissatisfied with her responses. (READ: CA quizzes Lopez on definition of watersheds)
Many of the questions during her final confirmation hearing on Tuesday, May 2, were about the controversial orders she’s made in her 10 months as environment secretary.
Lopez had repeatedly maintained her decisions are anchored on the "common good," and while she may not be a lawyer, she knows right from wrong, and what would help the people in the long run.
Lacson explained his vote against the appointment of Lopez amid a hail of criticism from supporters of the former official who deplored her rejection. He said he based his decision on the confirmation hearings "and nothing more."
"On a personal note, I hate being intimidated and pressured in the performance of my duties as a legislator and member of the CA. Her supporters can speculate all they want why I voted to reject her confirmation but these are my reasons and nothing more," he said.
Lopez and her supporters have accused the CA of being bought off by big mining firms affected by her controversial policies. (READ: Miners rejoice, environmental groups fume over rejection of Gina Lopez)
Meanwhile, detained Senator Leila de Lima joined other Liberal Party senators, who all voted in favor of Lopez’s appointment, in expressing support for the former official.
"Keep fighting the good fight. I do believe you can fly and touch the sky," she said in a statement on Thursday, referring to Lopez’s signature song which she even sang in a news briefing following her rejection by the CA. – Rappler.com