WATCH | Lacson explains why he voted against Lopez’s appointment at DENR

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Panfilo Lacson with journalists
Senator Panfilo Lacson after the Commission on Appointments hearing that rejected the designation of Regina Lopez as secretary of environment and natural resources.

MANILA – Senator Panfilo Lacson on Monday clarified his negative vote on the appointment of Regina Lopez as secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, pointing out that his decision was driven largely by the personality makeup of the appointee that, to him, lent her technically and emotionally unsuitable for the job.

Stung by insinuations that the failure at the Commission on Appointment hearings to confirm Lopez was due to lobby money that influenced the proceedings, Lacson spoke out to clarify that his vote was impelled largely by Lopez’s history of being subjected to a drug rehabilitation process in her younger years, in 1975, as well as her tendency at DENR to skirt due process and appearing to take action arbitrarily on certain mining issues, thus rubbing many parties the wrong way.

“She came across as authoritarian because she was taking it upon herself to interpret the Constitution,” said Lacson. The tendency of Lopez to interpret the law and make issuances that effectively amend these were also noted by other CA members Rep. Josephine Ramirez-Sato and Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano.

Lacson referred to Lopez’s unresolved “personality disorder” as among the factors that he considered. He said the sensitive matter came out in the open only when he felt he had to explain his vote, in the midst of the talk about lobbying by commercial interests to derail Lopez’s appointment.

‘Gina did not do drugs despite stay at center’

As for the “drug rehabilitation” stint, Lopez’s stay at the DARE Foundation was clarified, however, in an email sent to News5 by Bob Garon, co-founder of the Nazareth Formation House who was with the DARE Foundation when Lopez was taken there by her parents. He clarified that she was brought there not because of drugs.

“The truth is that Gina Lopez was brought to DARE because she had left home and joined the Ananda Marga movement. The parents were against this group and brought her to DARE to keep her away from this organization. I personally handled the case of Gina Lopez and state clearly that she was not involved in any drugs. In fact, I found that she had never taken drugs,” said Garon.

The Ananda Marga, he added, “filed a writ of habeas corpus with the Supreme Court to get her back. In fact, she was not with DARE for very long. Again, there was never any talk about her taking drugs.”

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