President Duterte has expressed sadness that the CA rejected Gina Lopez as DENR Secrtretary, on the one hand, saying that he liked her passion, but on the other hand, saying in a democracy, “Lobby money talks.”* While it is true that there is separation of powers, it would be good for those who feel the environment, the people, and the common good shamefully betrayed by the ignominious CA decision, if it were clarified what “Lobby money talks” means.
If “Lobby money talks” means that there was huge money at play to persuade the population and the members of the CA about the importance of mining for the common good, I am afraid that that message has been lost against the people’s experiences of environmental destruction caused by mining and the fact that it has not been the small people and the farmers who have benefitted from mining but the miners. Since the passage of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 (a law that still cries out for repeal!) it is indeed questionable whether the Filipino People benefit from mining at all.
But if “lobby money talks” means members of the CA were persuaded to vote against Gina Lopez by bribery, that is a matter that is not covered by the separation of powers. Because the Chief Executive has promised the Filipino People a corruption-free government, that includes freedom from the pernicious effects of “lobby money.”
One cannot say, “That’s the way democracy works.” Where there is bribery and the overweening influence of lobby groups, democracy – the rule of the people – precisely does not work.
Should there even be a hint of bribery in the CA, the President is duty-bound to investigate that and punish those who betray their public trust because “lobby money talks.”
If responsible mining is really good for the country and must continue, then it cannot be the “money talking” lobby group that guarantees that it is being done responsibly.
Under these circumstances, let President Duterte himself run the DENR and continue to use the passion of Gina Lopez for the sake of the environment.
Where there are geopolitical strategic decisions for peace that have to be made where mining plays a key role here, let it be the President himself and not the mining lobby to define those interests and explain them to the people in terms of the common good.
We continue to pray for the success of this administration.