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CA vice chair not satisfied with Lopez’s answers

NOT SATISFIED. Representative Ronaldo Zamora talks to reporters after the confirmation hearing of Environment Secretary Gina Lopez before a committee of the Commission on Appointments. Screenshot by Rappler

MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Appointments (CA) committee on environment and natural resources wrapped up its confirmation hearing of Gina Lopez’s appointment as environment secretary on Thursday, March 9 after a two-day marathon.

The second day of the hearing lasted almost 7 hours as Lopez faced off with her oppositors, most of them from the mining industry and mining communities.

After the hearing, CA vice chair and San Juan City Representative Ronaldo Zamora was asked if he’s satisfied, on a personal level, with Lopez’s answers and he answered a short and straight ‘No.’

Zamora barely asked questions during the two-day hearing, and for a reason.

"I have gone through too much, and I have had to explain that in my view, relationship with an individual who happens to be a stockholder of a publicly-listed corporation, I didn’t want that to become a side issue. It’s completely unnecessary," he told reporters.

He added: "And at the end of it, what for? Do I need this job? No, I don’t need this job. Do I need to confirm or reject anybody? No, I don’t."

Lopez has repeatedly referred to Zamora as a CA member with "mining interests," "into mining," and "a miner."

Just a day before on Wednesday, March 9, Zamora made headlines after Lopez told him to relay a message to his brother about the environmental effects of mining.

"Sir, you better tell him to behave. Because Sir, you know they’ve been mining this for 20 years, and the mountain was really big and the mountain got small, and that’s not legal at all, you’ve totally killed the mountain. Tell your brother he totally killed the mountain," she told Zamora.

The congressman’s older brother, Manuel Zamora, is the founder and chairman of Nickel Asia Corporation. Representative Zamora served in the board of Nickel Asia until his retirement from the company in 2013.

The older Zamora rejected Lopez’s claim, saying he is "not guilty" because he has not "killed a mountain."

On Thursday, Representative Zamora said he would’ve asked Lopez "many, many questions" if he were left on his own.

"The important thing is, appearances have to be kept. That’s the basic answer. If I were left on my own, I would’ve asked many, many questions. But you know, this is the Philippines, this is not a different country, you don’t want to step in too many toes while you’re doing what is basically a day job."

While it’s not for him to say if Lopez will be bypassed, Zamora said he’s not sure if the CA has "enough time to do this."

"We are going to adjourn, we’re going to take a break, that’s a 6-week break, and that is on Wednesday. So I’m not sure that we have enough time to do this."

The Commission on Appointments committee will meet on Tuesday, March 14, for an executive session on Lopez’s ad interim appointment. –