Group urges Congress to block Lopez’s appointment as DENR chief

download-26A consumers and commuters coalition on Saturday urged Congress not to confirm the appointment of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez for her alleged failure to deliver on a promise to act on their complaint against the defective multi-million faulty air monitoring system being used by her department since 2006.

United Filipino Consumers and Commuters (UFCC) President Rodolfo Javellana said that Lopez still has not acted on their complaint, which they relayed to Lopez in August 2016.

The UFCC said that during a meeting with Lopez last Aug. 2, 2016, she promised that “heads will roll” over the procurement of the allegedly defective Open Path Differential Optical Absorption spectroscopy (DOAS) stations being used by the Environment Management Bureau’s (EMB) Air Quality Monitoring Section (AQMS) since 2006.

On January 10, the UFCC and the Airboard Company filed a complaint before the Office of the Ombudsman against Lopez and other former and incumbent officials of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources for their supposed in action on allegations about the faulty air monitoring system.

Lopez had questioned the motive behind the complaint.

“When I was told about the possibility of overpriced machines, I called a meeting that very week. Dr. Mike Aragon was there. That was followed up two weeks later. I have zero tolerance for corruption and my passion for clean air,” Lopez told GMA News in reaction to the complaint.

The UFCC said in the complaint that after making the promise, Lopez simply referred their allegation to the EMB-AQMS.

“The mere fact na alam mo na at wala kang ginawa, naging bahagi ka na ng problema. Kung bahagi ka na problema, anong solusyon? I-reject mo na siya [Lopez] diyan. Wala naman siyang ginagawa eh,” Javellana told GMA News Online.

“Hindi pwede yung hustisya sa kalikasan ay selective,” he added.

The UFCC had alleged that since 2006, the EMB-AQMS has been using the DOAS stations procured from Electrobyte to measure air quality even as the equipment had supposedly failed to deliver “consistent and reliable” data.

The UFCC and Airboard alleged that the DOAS “would not function, or could not be utilized for the purposes they were acquired,” and called for a review of how the procurement law was implemented in relation to the Clean Air Act.

Javellana said that Lopez was incompetent and should not have accepted her appointment as Environment Secretary.

“Ibig sabihin hindi ka handa, kung hindi ka handa, dapat i-reject ka ng [Commission on Appointments] at ng Senado at ng Kongreso. Dahil ilalagay mo sa peligro ang buong bayan. Yung pagiging incompetent ang punto ko diyan,” he said.

Javellana said that the P800-million air quality monitoring equipment were not calibrated. He added that they have called the attention of Lopez numerous times.

“Ang halaga po nito ay hindi bababa ng P800 million. At ito pong mga equipment na ito ay may gustong bago na i-procure ang DENR. Subalit nung tayo ay nag-ingay, tila yata ang procurement na ‘yan ay medyo na-hold. Ang halaga ng procurement na yan ay P300 to 400 million,” Javellana said.

“Ang problema umupo lang siya, ang problema wala siyang aksyon. Ibig sabihin bahagi na si Sec. Gina Lopez ng problema na ating nireklamo,” he added.

Javellana explained that these equipment are needed in line with the Clean Air Act. He added that the equiptment are required to prvodie accurate data on air pollution.

“‘Pag hindi calibrated ang equipment ibig sabihin, hindi ito nagbibigay ng tamang data. So nasaan po ang buwis ng bayan?” Javellana said.

He added: “Kung totoo siyang environmentalist eh bakit parang selective tayo? Parang namimili lang tayo ng issue. Ang issue ba ng hangin o tubig ay hindi importante?” —ALG, GMA News


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