Should the members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) vote to reject the nomination of Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Gina Lopez, it would set a bad precedent that would discourage future DENR heads from strictly enforcing environmental laws, especially with regard to mining.
According to Jaybee Garganera, National Coordinator of Alyansa Tigil Mina, should Lopez fail to get the nod of the CA, “anyone appointed DENR secretary will have no choice but to cozy up to the mining industry if he or she wants to get confirmed.”
“The mining industry is sending a really strong message in this confirmation battle of Sec. Lopez. These mining giants are telling the President that they won’t tolerate a DENR chief who has the guts to stand up to them,” added Garganera, who explained that Lopez was facing rough sailing in the CA because she is the first DENR Secretary who has taken a “zero tolerance approach” to violations committed by mining companies.
“Most people in her position would ease up on the mining companies after these miners made it clear that they have the resources and the support of politicians needed to block her confirmation. Many would have made compromises to secure their appointment,” lamented Garganera.
That Lopez continued to go full throttle on her campaign to hold mining companies accountable despite these overt threats to her appointment, said Gerry Arances of the Center for Energy Ecology and Development, “is exactly why we need someone like Gina Lopez in the DENR.”
“We need someone like Lopez, a DENR chief with integrity and political will at the DENR who will ensure strict compliance with our environmental laws,” added Arances.
“Because if the President is forced to appoint someone at the DENR who can be bought off, or someone who will wilt under the pressure of these mining companies, lalakas loob ng mga yan, and they will not be afraid to violate our laws.”
Members of the CA will take up the confirmation of Lopez on May 2. The mining industry has voiced displeasure with the choice of the President, and have called on CA members to reject the appointment of Lopez.