Environment Secretary Gina Lopez has accused Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez of plotting to “usurp” the powers of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR).
In an interview with ANC Monday, Lopez said Dominguez invoked the use of the Mining Industry Coordinating Council (MICC) last February just to overturn her decision to shut down 23 mines and suspend five other firms. Dominguez, who spent years as a top mining executive, claimed that Lopez did not follow due process in the mines closure.
“When Sonny Dominguez said that he will spend P50 million to review mining operations, it seemed to me like spending money to do something which is similar to a usurpation of powers . You’re not supposed to do that,” said Lopez.
For Lopez, the mining audit has been completed and that this was off limits to the MICC. “The audit is finished, I’ve already made my decision. I think this is Sonny’s idea, he wanted to do something more, whatever. But if you’re not going to evaluet from the lens of social justice, I’m not there,” said Lopez.
She said she was made to “naively” sign the MICC which appointed her and Dominguez as co-chair ostensibly to review her decision to close the mines. “There’s no compromise. there was just some confusion when I naively signed this thing. But I am not a lawyer and after that, I found out that the the only entity which is mandated to review mining operation is actually DENR,” said Lopez.
Lopez said that MICC’s role was “purely recommendatory” and that it should respect DENR’s regulatory powers. “They are not my boss, the only one who can tell me what to do is the President,” said Lopez.
Lopez said she would attend the next Cabinet meeting on April 3. He was grateful to President Rodrigo Duterte for continuing to support her strong stand on mining closures despite the powerful mining lobby in the Commission on Appointments.