On the CA rejection of Gina Lopez as DENR Secretary

There are plenty of malicious opinions and comments going around about the rejection of Gina Lopez as Secretary of the DENR by the Commission on Appointments (CA). One thing I notice about these comments and opinions is that it seems all of these did not watch the 2 1/2 hours CA hearing of Gina last May 02, 2017.

I watched it in full and here are my impressions:

1. Simple questions answerable by Yes or No, Gina cannot answer. Her mind and mouth is full of emotions, little or nothing on specifics, numbers and law.

2. Three questions by Sen. Alan Cayetano: (a) how much of total PH land area is actively mined, (b) beach resorts, how much of total coastal land of the PH have beach resorts, (c) what are the standards and criteria for her recent orders on mine closure — she could not answer.

3. Questions on land multiple titles involving DENR corruption resulting in perennial land grabbing problem raised by 3 Congressmen, what she’s doing about it in her 10 months in office, she was clueless, no specific answer, only generalized ones like “we are cleaning up the department” or “we are computerizing things.” She can suspend or close down many mining firms that follow certain regulations but she cannot suspend or kick out any corrupt officials in her department the past 10 months.

4. Question on very dirty rivers like Marilao river, Pasig river, she answered “structural problems” daw, despite heading the Pasig river clean up commission. She has no specific plans to clean up these rivers.

5. Questions on unabated logging, she has no clear answer.

6. Questions on legal basis, what existing laws, as basis for her recent AOs (Administrative Orders) on P2M/hectare of “disturbed” agri land as deposit — no answer. She argued “my prerogative” as Secretary.  Congw. Josephine Sato who insisted on this issue is very specific in her points — “we are a nation of laws, not of men”. Our actions and policies should be based on existing laws, not on whims of men/women leaders. Bright legislator.

DENR work is more than mining. She’s very hard-working, very passionate, only in anti-mining campaigns. But she’s lazy on other mandates of the DENR.

Knowledge of her work, the mandates of her office, especially after 10 months, these are more important than passion and drama. She talked a lot about closing many mining firms because of their environmental impact but when asked how many hectares are actually mined, she does not know. Meaning she does not bother about numbers and facts, she’s only concerned about her personal bias vs mining.

I like Congw. Sato’s rejection of Gina’s “my prerogative as Secretary” answer to her question. Department Secretaries cannot legislate on their own, otherwise Secretaries of DA, DOTC, DPWH, DSWD, DAR, etc. can just issue dozens of AOs or Department circulars (DCS) creating new prohibitions and regulations, new fines and penalties, new subsidies and entitlements — all bypassing Congress as legislative body.

Gina also fought publicly some big Du30 officials like Exec. Sec. Medialdea and DOF Sec. Dominguez. These 2 guys alone are of higher political importance to PDu30 than her. Sen. Cayetano, PDu30 running mate, is not impressed of her. Between her and Medialdea or even Cayetano or Dominguez, very easy to guess who PDu30 will choose.

She can go back to the Lopez Foundation. She can order people there and no one will question her about technical standards/criteria, or legal basis for her orders. Maybe she got used to family dictatorship and tried to export such culture to the DENR.

PDu30 made a mistake in appointing her as DENR Secretary even without fully scrutinizing her work ethics, her technical skills. Du30 corrected this mistake by not defending her at the CA.

Mining is good, responsible corporate mining. The US has the biggest open pit mine in the whole world, there are other big open pit mines in Montana, etc. Canada, Australia, Sweden, Russia, Indonesia, Vietnam, etc., they all allow large corporate responsible mining.

Gina’s big problem is her own big ego.

And people who oppose mining and argue “zero mining” are as confused as the people who say “zero fossil fuel”. These people should be riding bicycles or skateboards or just walking/running, or riding horses, cows, ponies. They should not ride cars, jeeps, buses, airplanes, ships because all these use fossil fuels 100%.

People who say “zero mining” don’t want to live in caves. Even barong-barong use mining products like nails, hammer, saw, bolo, etc. Hypocrisy always finds some scapegoats like the “oligarchs”, as if the Lopezes are not oligarchs.

Two columnist-friends wrote about the issue too, reposting them here.

1. “Furthermore, no matter what happens to the confirmation of DENR Secretary Gina Lopez, President Duterte will suffer politically big time. President Duterte still openly supports her and even echoes her derogatory remarks on mining’s contribution to the economy. However, just about any political pooh-bah or kingmaker is into mining — Manny Zamora, Paul Dominguez, Philip Romualdez, Manny Pangilinan, Manny Villar, etc. — so supporting Gina Lopez will cost President Duterte politically. These political bigwigs are apart from the local government executives who will see a reduction in their revenue from Gina Lopez’s closure of mines.”Calixto Chikiamco, May 01, 2017,

(2) “while reforms are needed in the DENR’s policies, there is a need to stress that any reformulation of the agency’s stance should first and foremost be grounded on this dispassionate set of information, which should be mercifully kept exempt from the drama of politics and self-interest.”Orlando Oraa Oxales, May 01, 2017, http://manilastandard.net/opinion/columns/open-thoughts-by-orlando-oxales/235439/denr-reforms-based-on-what-.html

(3) “And that’s why we bring down the curtains on the brief stint of Gina Lopez at the DENR – which could very well be a blessing in disguise for her, She has a role to play in environmental advocacy in the country, even if it means taking extreme positions on issues; that’s what an advocate does. But that’s not what a Cabinet member does, really, just as that’s not what a legislator does. Because governing often means compromise (sometimes unfortunately understood pejoratively) where the people are involved because interests are varied and no single man or woman has the monopoly of the love of God or country or the poor or the environment.” — JB Baylon, May 05, 2017,




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