“I have no regrets.”
Thus said Secretary Gina Lopez after the Commission on Appointments (CA) rejected her appointment as head of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) yesterday.
Facing the media after the CA decision, Lopez said she has come to accept her fate because of her tough stand against open pit mining and environmental plunder.
“I have no regrets. I think the mining industries were scared of me,” said Lopez, admitting she got emotional after learning her nomination was rejected.
The 25-member CA did not disclose how the voting went, but Lopez said only eight voted for her.
“The first CA hearing, I came here, I was very naïve. And then I got shocked (later on), what happened here? People who said they were nice and now, they changed suddenly, was a shock to me. That’s the time I got emotional. Then after that, I realized you can’t control the outcome. You have no control over politics kasi magulo (it’s crazy),” Lopez said.
“So I have already decided the most important thing for me is to be true, since politics is so unpredictable,” she added.
Lopez took the opportunity to lash out against the lawmakers who voted against her.
“If government co opts to big business, which I think it has, at least some of them, then what hope do the poor have?
What message are we giving here? If you want to be confirmed never go against big ones? That’s what they’re saying,” she said.
“If you wanna do this, do you think any DENR secretary would do what I have done? You’ll never get confirmed. Yeah? And it’s not like I went against all mining.”
During the CA plenary session, Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito rose in defense of Lopez.
“I believe that Gina Lopez is highly qualified for the position of DENR Secretary because of her commitment to serve the country and her unwavering advocacy to save our environment,’’ Ejercito said.
“We have to look beyond certain qualifications before individuals can serve the country and be a catalyst for change.
Secretary Gina Lopez has the passion to take care of the environment and address the indigenous peoples’ displacement in their ancestral lands,” he added.
Aside from Ejercito, six senators sided with Lopez. They are Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Loren Legarda, Francis Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, and Ralph Recto.
Sen. Manny Pacquiao is believed to be the eighth lawmaker who voted for Lopez.
Lopez said she is ready to turn over all the necessary documents on the policies she enforced.
She said she is not interested to take another Cabinet position.
“You know, you ought to know that you every Filipino have the Constitutional right to live healthy lives. That’s a constitutional right – it is your God-given right and that is much more important than any amount of money that anyone wants to make. Money that people want to make is never more important than your constitutional right. It must never be allowed,” Lopez said. (HANNAH L. TORREGOZA • MARIO B. CASAYURAN)