CA members with mining interests urged to inhibit

CA members with mining interests urged to inhibit

Fr. Edwin Gariguez (extreme left), executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), joins a rally in Manila to call for Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s confirmation, March 1, 2017. NASSA 

MANILA— A Church official called on members of the Commission on Appointments (CA) with ties to mining  firms to inhibit themselves in the process of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s appointment.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), claimed vested corporate interests “play a big factor” in Lopez’s pending confirmation.

“That’s why we demand that those CA members with link to mining inhibit themselves from the process,” said the priest.

Lopez was among the four members of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Cabinet who were bypassed by the CA this week.

Tough opposition

The environment chief has been facing tough opposition from different groups as the CA tackled her nomination.

Some CA members are also questioning her administrative competence to lead as well as her technical and scientific knowledge on the environment, particularly on mining.

The CA has also set new rules which allow “secret voting” among its members.

Lopez has earlier ordered the closure of at least 23 mining operations, mostly located in functional watersheds.

“We, in the Church environmental movement, cannot understand the logic of CA in highlighting some trivial issues and flimsy objections being raised against the confirmation of Sec. Gina Lopez,” stressed Gariguez.

Links with mining interests

Meanwhile, environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) earlier said there are reasons to believe that several CA members are compromised.

According to the group, some of them allegedly either own mining companies or come from families whose business interests include mining.

Other CA members received campaign contributions from individuals who are publicly known to be involved in mining operations, added the ATM.

“Some of the CA members who will cast their ‘secret votes’ were affected by the mining closures and suspensions ordered by Sec. Gina Lopez,” the group said.

“This situation clearly illustrates that mining interests are closely intertwined with national and local politics,” it also said.

Other members of Duterte’s Cabinet that failed to get the CA’s nod are Agrarian Reform Rafael Mariano, Social Welfare and Development Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, and Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial. CBCPNews