Environment Secretary Gina Lopez is scheduled to face tough confirmation proceedings at the Commission on Appointments (CA) on Wednesday, with the body expected to hear more than 20 oppositions to her designation.
“It (proceedings) will be long. We might not be able to finish tomorrow. The thing there is, there are many oppositors. We have to listen to the oppositors,” committee chair Sen. Manny Pacquiao said.
Lopez is third in the line of President Duterte’s appointees set to appear before the CA on Wednesday after Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., who is facing citizenship issues, and Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial.
“I know the people are with me,” an unfazed Lopez said. “I will tell the truth and then I will tell them (oppositors), don’t worry. Whoever they are, if it’s the displaced workers, I’ll tell them the truth. Maybe they’re opposing because they don’t know everything.”
Pacquiao, who met with Lopez on Tuesday, said he had agreed with the oppositors that eight of them would be heard today.
Among Lopez’s oppositors are officials of the Chamber of Mines of the Philippines, the Provincial Council of Surigao del Norte, provinces affected by her mining closure order, mining firm owners and officials, University of the Philippines geology professor Carlo Arcilla and several geology students, and other mining stakeholders.
Meanwhile, documents obtained by the Inquirer showed that Lopez may be liable for violating corruption laws for lobbying the Department of Energy (DOE) to grant a permit for a solar farm project of a French company whose president and chair was her former subordinate at the environment department.
According to documents obtained by the Inquirer, Nicanor Jesus “Nicky” Perlas III now heads EcoGlobal Inc. and is a member of EcoGlobal Foundation Inc. as of February.
Lopez earlier admitted that she pressured a DOE official to “fast track” the release the Renewable Energy Service Contract (RESC) of EcoGlobal Inc., which the company needed for the development of a $100-million, 30-megawatt solar farm in Zamboanga City.
The following month, Lopez went to Paris to meet with the French environment ministry and officials of SIAAP, a French water sanitation company that would undertake the Pasig River rehabilitation project through EcoGlobal Foundation Inc.
Lopez and Jean-Philippe Henry of EcoGlobal Inc. and EcoGlobal Foundation Inc. both told the Inquirer that the French government through SIAAP paid for the Cabinet secretary’s trip.
However, the Inquirer obtained Henry’s letter of guarantee to the French Embassy that EcoGlobal Inc. would undertake all the expenses to be incurred by Lopez and her delegation for the Paris trip.
Lopez could be liable for violating the antigraft and corrupt practices act for the Paris trip as well as for pressuring another government official to release a government contract.