Duterte unlikely to lobby for Lopez before CA

Jess Diaz - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - As in the raging bitter feud between his two staunch congressmen-supporters, President Duterte is observing a hands-off stance on the confirmation by the Commission on Appointments (CA) of controversial Environment Secretary Gina Lopez.

Isabela Rep. Rodolfo Albano III, the CA majority leader, said yesterday that the President, aside from public statements supporting Lopez, has not pushed for her confirmation.

“He has not sent word to us members of the House of Representatives contingent in the CA. I don’t think he has sent word to the Senate panel either. That is maybe because he respects the independence of the CA,” he said.

Albano said he believes Lopez has a “50-50 percent chance of confirmation or rejection.”

Earlier, Albano said the appointments commission would decide on the fate of the environment secretary through secret voting on May 3, following the resumption of session of Congress after a six-week Lenten recess.

In the past, Duterte has expressed support for Lopez’s confirmation and her decision to shut down at least 23 mines for allegedly destroying the environment, including mountains and watershed areas.

However, two days ago, Duterte cussed the Lopezes for the allegedly unfair reportage of television giant ABS-CBN.

The Lopez family, to which the environment secretary belongs, controls the network.

Malacañang had said Duterte’s latest tirades against ABS-CBN should not be seen as an indication that he will not reappoint Lopez to the post.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s tirades against ABS-CBN and the issues on Lopez “are two separate matters.”

Duterte has not also meddled in the worsening quarrel between Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his top election campaign contributor, Davao del Norte Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr.

He has not called them, according to the two feuding congressmen. Alvarez and Floirendo represent Davao del Norte’s first and second districts, respectively.

Without Duterte’s intervention, Lopez is in danger of suffering the fate of rejected foreign affairs secretary-nominee Perfecto Yasay Jr., said a CA member who did not want to be named.

“If there is no word from the President on or before May 3, I have a feeling that she will become another Yasay,” the CA member said.

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