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Church exec questions CA ‘secret voting’ rules

Church exec questions CA ‘secret voting’ rules
Anti-irresponsible mining groups hold rally outside the Senate gates, March 1, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

Anti-irresponsible mining groups hold rally outside the Senate gates, March 1, 2017. ROY LAGARDE

MANILA– A Church official has questioned the new rules set by the Commission on Appointments (CA) which allow “secret voting” among its members.

Fr. Edwin Gariguez, executive secretary of the CBCP National Secretariat for Social Action (Nassa), said the move is a “cowardly strategy” to hide their votes behind anonymity.

What is doubtful, he said, is the timing of the adoption of the new rules which was a day before the scheduled hearing of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

“Clearly the selection process is tarnished with lack of full transparency, particularly in Gina Lopez’ case, as there are CA members with clear connection with the industry or are supported by them,” Gariguez said.

“The CA’s credibility is all the more put into question,” he added.

Nassa and some bishops have lauded Lopez’ performance as environment chief, saying she deserves confirmation by the CA.

Environmental group Alyansa Tigil Mina (ATM) also believes that the secret voting in an executive session is meant to prevent the confirmation of Lopez.

The CA`s credibility is all the more put into question.Fr. Edwin Gariguez
Other new rules approved include the shortening of required notice from three days to a day and the automatic membership of CA members to all standing committees except the committee on rules.

“These new rules erode the transparency and accountability of the CA,” said Jaybee Garganera, ATM National Coordinator.

He said the intent of a plenary vote is to ensure that the candidate for the cabinet post is given a public judgment by the CA members, on his or her capacity to perform the duties as a head of a department.

“It is in the public interest that a public and nominal voting of the CA members be conducted,” Garganera said. “As it is, there is reason to believe that several members of the CA are compromised.”

To further drive his point, Garganera said some CA members own mining companies, while the others come from families who are into mining business.

He also revealed that some CA members received campaign contributions from individuals who are publicly known to be involved in mining operations.

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

“At this critical juncture of the CA hearings, we are witnessing the political vengeance of vested interests on mining against social justice. At the end of the day, the rural poor communities and the Philippine environment are the big losers,” he said.  CBCPNews