- Presidential spokesman played down Duterte’s “lobby money talks” remark
- He said president respects the decision of the CA to junk Gina Lopez
- He pointed to Duterte’s non-interference in CA’s deliberations as proof of deference
MANILA, Philippines – Despite his remark about lobby money playing a role in the Commission on Appointments (CA)’s decision to junk environment secretary Gina Lopez’s confirmation, President Rodrigo Duterte still respects their ruling in totality.
“President Duterte’s statement that there was lobby money highlights the existence of certain vested interests in the appointment of officials. This, however, does not in any way diminish the integrity of the Commission on Appointments,” the Philippine Daily Inquirer quoted presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella as saying. “Some members of the Commission have decided according to principle and conscience and even came out to explain their votes.”
According to Abella, Duterte’s non-interference in the CA’s deliberations showed he respected their independence.
“The President respects the independence of the CA. The fact that he did not interfere during the confirmation process of the erstwhile DENR Secretary shows his deference to the body,” he said.
Following Lopez’s rejection, a dejected Duterte said he has no control over the voting.
“I really like her passion. But you know how it is. This is democracy and lobby money talks. I do not control everything. I am the head of the executive department, the President. Congress is controlled by the Senate President and the Speaker, the lower house and the upper house,” he said.
Sen. Panfilo “Ping” Lacson, one of those who voted for Lopez, described the president’s statement as “uncalled for”.
“I think it is unfortunate if not inappropriate and uncalled for. It is a sweeping assault not only on the integrity of the members of the CA who voted for rejection but the CA itself, being an independent constitutional body,” he said.