Philippine Congress rejects appointee who ordered mines shut

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The lawmakers' on Wednesday rejected the appointment of Gina Lopez as Environment Secretary, who earlier had ordered the closure of at least 23 mining operations, mostly located in functional watersheds and did not comply with environmental safety standards. "It can not be arbitrary", Cortuna added, referring to a memorandum Lopez issued in January imposing a P2-million fee per hectare of land that was "disturbed" by mining companies. "I do not control everything", he told a gathering of doctors.

Leones said the vacuum left by Lopez is temporary, saying he and other officials of the DENR expect Duterte to immediately appoint the next DENR chief.

He also pointed out how Lopez could have violated the 1995 Mining Act by suspending mining companies for the rehabilitation of affected areas.

Last March, the CA also rejected Perfecto Yasay's appointment as Foreign Affairs Secretary after his failure to disclose the details of his citizenship.

Although Duterte's allies control both chambers of the Philippine legislature, the commission chose to reject Lopez. Panfilo Lacson said Thursday.

Argonaut said it was likely Lopez's orders for suspensions would be unwound, however it had a positive longer-term outlook, believing nickel inventories would continue to track down.

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"On a personal note, I hate being intimidated and pressured in the performance of my duties as a legislator and member of the CA", he added. "I really liked her passion", he said, referring to Lopez by her nickname.

"The decision not to confirm Secretary Lopez is a rejection of the significant change that this administration had promised".

"We want to make sure that we follow the correct process".

Caritas Philippines' executive secretary Fr. Edwin Gariguez, who had earlier expressed support for a government plan to work with communist New People's Army (NPA) in implementing projects that will protect the environment said, it was expected since some members of the Commission on Appointments have ties to mining firms. "Maybe we can start in three weeks' time, but we will try to start as soon as possible", he said. He said after the list was finalized, it would be submitted to the MICC for approval.

"We have said all along that the MICC is tasked to conduct a review of the existing operations, and MICC was created two years ago [but] no review has been done", Mr. Agabin said in an interview in his office in Manila.

The Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC), an inter-agency panel that includes the finance and environment ministries, ordered a review in February of the operations and the environmental and social impacts of the country's mines.