Lopez hopes appointments body members won’t have vested interests
Environment Secretary Gina Lopez expressed hope on Tuesday members of the bi-cameral Commission on Appointments must not have any vested interest, noting the family of the vice chairman of the powerful body is involved in mining.
In a press conference at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources office in Quezon City, Lopez lamented that based from the past experiences, members of the CA from the House of Representatives voted as a "bloc" during the confirmation process.
"The problem right now is the head of the Commission (on) Appointments is a miner. I mean, he's Ronnie Zamora," she said, referring to San Juan City Representative Ronaldo B. Zamora, vice chairman of the 25-man CA.
"So it's really scary," said Lopez, who earlier ordered the closure of 23 mining projects, suspension of five others, and cancellation of 75 mineral production sharing agreements (MPSAs).
Zamora's family controls Nickel Asia Corp., which operates Rio Tuba Nickel Mining Corp., Taganito Mining Corpo, Cagdianao Mining Corp., and Hinatuan Mining Corp.
Hinatuan Mining in Surigao del Norte is one of the 23 mining firms, which Lopez ordered closed for violation of the laws.
"This is what I feel. I feel that whoever is in the Commission on Appointments must have no vested interest because the rhyme and reason for appointment should be public service," Lopez said.
She said the members of the CA should be people who "can best serve the country and don't choose based on whether it will affect your business interest or not."
Meanwhile, Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, who addresses Lopez as secretary-designate, said what he supports is the position of President Rodrigo Duterte, which is to follow due process before any mining operation is shut down.
There were perceptions that Dominguez, who co-chairs the Mining Industry Coordinating Council, was pushing for the interest of the mining companies affected by Lopez's orders.
The MICC has created a multi-stakeholder team to review the orders of the DENR against mining firms.
Dominguez denied having stake with any mining company.
However, when asked about his declaration in his statement of assets, liabilities and net worth regarding his share with the Philex Mining Corp. since 1967, he said it was "a gift to my grandson from my mother."
"I think it was 5,000 shares to my son and we haven't transferred it to his name yet," he said. His son is over 40 years old. Celerina Monte/DMS