DAVAO CITY, Philippines — At times close to tears, and with passion in her voice, former Environment and Natural Resources secretary designate Regina Paz Lopez maintained that the Commission on Appeals rejected her appointment based on business interests.
“It is the constitutional right of every Filipino to a clean and healthy environment. It is our right in the constitution and that is premier above all. It is the duty of government to grant our people this right. And when people make choices influenced and based on business, transgressing the right of every Filipino to what God has given them, it is wrong,” Lopez said.
On Wednesday, the Commission on Appeals Committee on Environment and Natural Resources rejected Lopez’ appointment, after bypassing her two times.
CA committee on Environment and Natural Resources Senator Emmanuel Pacquiao said 13 members voted against Lopez.
Lopez expressed regret that she will no longer be able to continue her work in DENR.
“Marami kaming plano, sayang, na sa sa pamamagitan ng pag-alaga ng kalikasan, doon manggagaling ang pakinabang ng lahat” (We had many plans — it’s very unfortunate. Through taking care of the environment, we’d have had everybody benefiting), Lopez said.
In previous interviews, Lopez said that the chances of her being confirmed were low. Lopez said there were many in the CA who had mining interests.
Lopez in particular pointed at San Juan Representative San Juan Rep. Ronaldo Zamora, the head of the House contingent at the CA.
The Zamoras own the Nickel Asia Corporation, one of the biggest mining companies in the country.
“We were gonna do it, I was excited kasi may pera ang pamahaalaan, may pera ang DENR at I wanted to use that money to create models na pwedeng pwedeng pweden alisin ang kahirapan sa bansa”
(We were gonna do it. I was excited because the government had the money. The DENR had the money and I wanted to use that to create models that could really eradicate poverty in the country), Lopez said.
“It is very sad that the in the CA, clearly, business interests have run the day,” Lopez added.
Lopez also reacted on the fourth graft complaint filed earlier, saying that the mining companies had much more to earn than what she required of them.
“All I’m saying is they are gonna so much money from the stockpile. Not a little. The cost of one ton of stock pile is 12 dollars. We have how many millions of tons of stockpiles. In Zambales alone, 2.6 million (tons). And then I calculated they’re gonna make more than 10 billion pesos. In Zambales alone, 1.4 billion pesos. That’s so much money that they’re gonna make,” Lopez said.
“All I’m asking is that you give 2 million pesos per hectare of farmland na nadismaya yung mga magsasaka dahil sa operations niyo. That’s how you made your money, and you disadvantaged a farmland. What is wrong with giving 2 million pesos to the farmers who are disadvantaged?” Lopez added.
The graft complaint, filed by the Citinickel Mines and Development Corporation, accused Lopez of requiring CMDC to pay P 2 million pesos for every hectare of disturbed farmland to a private trust fund.
Lorna Kapunan, who filed the complaint in behalf of the CMDC said this was on top of the trust funds legally required by law, which are managed by the Development Bank of the Philippines.
Lopez however, maintained that the funds required by law are only for lands inside the rehabilitation zone. The additional 2 million she required the mining companies would be for those outside the rehab zones. (davaotoday.com)