MANILA, April 17 Philippines President Rodrigo
Duterte has reappointed the environment minister who wants more
than half of the country's mines shut, but the official said on
Monday she was unsure if lawmakers would allow her to keep the
Lawmakers making up the powerful Commission on Appointments
deferred a decision to confirm or reject the appointment of
Environment and Natural Resources Secretary Regina Lopez before
Congress headed into a recess from March 18.
Lopez' decision in February to shut or suspend 26 of 41
operating mines to protect watersheds in the world's top nickel
ore supplier has raised concerns of supply disruptions and
boosted global nickel prices.
Lopez, who faces the panel again when Congress' session
resumes in May, said last month she was worried because some
panel members had relatives with links to the mining sector.
In the Philippines, confirmation hearings can take place
long after ministers start work. Lopez has been in Duterte's
cabinet for 10 months despite being bypassed by the appointments
The panel again failed to reach a decision in March on her
case, saying it needed more information.
If rejected by the panel, Lopez cannot be reappointed.
Asked about her chances of being confirmed, Lopez told local
journalists on Monday: "I don't know. I'm not confident at all.
Politics is very dirty."
Several mine operators have appealed against Lopez's closure
and suspension orders and a second review of operations of the
affected mines has been planned.
Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez has defended a plan to
scrutinise Lopez's closure orders, warning of potentially costly
lawsuits by affected mining firms.
(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz, editing by David Evans)