‘Lobby money talks’: Duterte meant ‘lobby’, not ‘money’, Abella says

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File photo of DENR chief Gina Lopez and President Rodrigo Duterte from RTVM

MANILA, Philippines – Malacanang on Tuesday once again had to explain comments made by President Rodrigo Duterte, this time about how “lobby money talks” in the wake of Gina Lopez’s rejection as Environment secretary by the Commission on Appointments.

Eh you know how it is. This is a democracy and lobby money talks,” Duterte said after the CA turned down Lopez’s appointment. He has since appointed former military chief Roy Cimatu to the environment portfolio.

The comment drew protests and calls for an investigation from lawmakers.

Senator Panfilo Lacson, who voted against Lopez, said Duterte’s comment was “unfortunate, if not inappropriate and uncalled for.” Lacson said it was “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 also hinted Duterte himself may have backed Lopez’s rejection, saying the chief executive’s “staunchest allies in both houses of Congress will not cast their votes without first seeking his guidance.”

Occidental Mindoro Representative Josephine Ramirez-Sato, on the other hand, urged Senate President and CA chair Aquilino Pimentel III to investigate Duterte’s claim, saying “inaction will be a disservice to our people and to our country.”

But presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte himself “corrected himself, I mean he clarified” during Monday night’s Cabinet meeting that “when he said lobby, it’s not necessarily (about) money” and that “people automatically assumed that there was an exchange of money but lobby is a legal thing that you can exercise in order to persuade.”

HERE’S THAT PART OF DUTERTE’S SPEECH ON MAY 4 WHERE HE SAID ‘LOBBY MONEY TALKS’: