Press Release
July 31, 2007

Sen. Pia: Appointments make GMA directly accountable in environment, energy concerns

The recent appointments of the President's close political allies and relatives to key positions in the energy and environment sectors in both the Executive and Legislative Branches will surely elicit howls of protest from various sectors, but Senator Pia S. Cayetano would rather look at the issue from another angle.

"By apparently taking full control of these two critical sectors, the President is making herself directly accountable to issues relating to energy and the environment, especially in light of the looming power and water crisis," she said.

"Therefore, any foul-up, or accomplishment for that matter, committed by the government in these sectors can be directly attributed to the President herself, considering her close association with the people overseeing these concerns," she added.

"I also have reservations about these appointments, but I'd rather respect the prerogative of the President and the House leadership in choosing their deputies and leaders, and observe how things play out."

Questions were raised recently on the appointments of former Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes to the Department of Energy (DOE); former Manila Mayor Lito Atienza to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR); and the transfer of the Philippine Mining Development Corp. (PMDC) from the DENR to the Office of the President (to be headed by former DENR Secretary Heherson Alvarez).

She added that the President's apparent bid to take full control of these sectors became more pronounced with the recent appointment of her relatives, Representatives Mikey Arroyo and Iggy Arroyo, as chairperson of the energy and environment committees of the House of Representatives, respectively.

Cayetano believes the DOE urgently needs an energy expert with a firm grasp of the power sector over a newcomer who still has to learn the rudiments of the industry.

On the other hand, she said the transfer of the PMDC to the Office of the President might give the impression that it is above the jurisdiction of the DENR, and therefore exempted from environmental safeguards under the Mining Act.

"The President can be held directly accountable should PMDC or any of its investment partners commit violations of environmental regulations since the agency is now directly under her," she concluded.

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