Lopez grilled in second CA hearing

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) - Environment Secretary Gina Lopez faced a number of opposition at the Commission on Appointments on Thursday, most of whom cited her lack of technical knowledge and preparation for the post.

Representatives of mining companies, engineering students from the University of the Philippines and indigenous groups from Surigao opposed the environmental advocate's appointment.

"Nagkaroon ng magandang buhay, nakapag-aral ang mga anak. May mga scholars 'yung company. Ngayon sinasabi ng Secretary, pagsara ng minahan. Paano yung amin mga katutubo na kasalukuyan na nag aaral, paano ang mangyayari sa kanila? Kung halimbawa hindi mawala ang hanapbuhay, kung halimbawang sapat na kinikita yung nga nagtatrabaho sa minahan, paano ang kinabukasan ng amin mga kabataan?" said Datu Aben Amentindogan, spokesperson for the Manobos of Surigao del Sur.

[Translation: Our lives were okay, our children able to go to school. The mining companies have scholars. Now, the Secretary says to close down the mines. How about the indigenous people who are current scholars, what would happen to them? Let's say we don't lose our jobs, if we earn only enough for our daily living, how about the future of our children?]

Lopez said despite her lack of technical expertise, she is committed to the work and she relies on a team of experts.

A major point of contention was the legality of suspension and cancellation orders issued by Lopez on 23 mining operations and the recall of 75 mineral production-sharing agreements approved by her predecessors.

Read: Mining firms vow legal battle vs DENR order

Those against her appointment claimed Lopez did not follow due process and will leave thousands of people unemployed.    

But the secretary said the Environment department would not lose public support, and that it has followed the law in determining which operation would be suspended or cancelled.

"There is a law backing each law that we say they violated. We followed due process every single step of he way in terms of processes in terms of violations," Lopez said.

Read: DENR closes 23 mining firms, plans rehabilitation of affected areas

Lopez also mentioned the existence of a rehabilitation fund to restore mine sites, and the possible hiring of displaced workers for rehabilitation activities.

She said no mine has been closed pending an approval from President Rodrigo Duterte.

Environment Committee Chairman Manny Pacquiao said the committee will hold a closed-door meeting on March 14, but with Senate having its last session on Wednesday, some members of the Commission say a decision might not surface before Easter.