Philippine lawmakers on Wednesday rejected the appointment of Regina Lopez as environment minister, 10 months into her term in office, confirming an earlier Reuters report.
There is a 50 percent chance that Philippines Environment Secretary Regina Lopez may lose her confirmation vote after holding the position for almost a year, said the head of the country's Senate environment committee on Tuesday.
However, despite public support from President Rodrigo Duterte who had threatened to shut down the mining industry completely, the powerful congressional appointments body rejected Lopez's appointment. She followed it by cancelling 75 contracts for undeveloped mines and just last week banned open-pit mining, which she blames for causing extensive environmental damage.
The mining firm said Lopez usurped the legislative powers of Congress when she required CDMC to pay P2 million per hectare of disturbed land to a trust fund which would have covered around 130 hectares of the company's mining sites in the towns of Narra and Sofronio Española in Palawan. His spokesman said Duterte would respect the panel's decision.
Another opponent of Lopez was Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez, a former mining executive whose family has big investments in the industry.
Lopez added: "I cannot think of another person for the DENR post... it needs total tapang because you step on business interests".
"An extraordinary chance to project the rights of the people has been squandered", it said in a statement.
The rejection of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez was recommended by the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources headed by Sen.
Duterte had previously reappointed Lopez twice after she was bypassed by the CA.
"It is the constitutional right of every Filipino to a clean and healthy environment", an emotional, at times angry, Lopez told reporters.
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Also on Wednesday, the Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) lashed out at lawmakers for rejecting Lopez's appointment.
She is the second member of Duterte's cabinet dismissed by Congress.
Last March, Perfecto Yasay's appointment as Foreign Affairs Secretary was rejected by the CA after his failure to disclose the details of his citizenship.
"Truth needs courage. If I don't act the truth and if I don't act courageously a part of me will die inside".
ATM Chairman Ben Molino said people suffering from the ill effects of mining began to see hope when the DENR, under Lopez's leadership, issued cancellation orders.
Nickel futures on the London Metal Exchange experienced a slump of more than two percent as projections said some mines would reopen after the dismissal of Lopez.
"Who suffers if you kill the environment?"
According to the complaint, when Citinickel was suspended in July 22 previous year, they filed a Mineral Ore Export Permit (MOEP) with the Mines and Geosciences Bureau (MBG) to export mineral ores mined prior to the suspension date.
The complaint said Ms. Lopez issued another memorandum order on January 30 "directing the MGB Director to impose additional requirements for the issuance of MOEPs".