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CA panel recommends Paje's confirmation.

Byline: Maila Ager

MANILA -- After holding seven hearings and intense questioning, a panel of the powerful Commission on Appointments (CA) finally recommended on Tuesday the confirmation of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje.

A motion to recommend "favorably" Paje's confirmation for plenary action was "unanimously" seconded by members of the CA committee on environment and natural resources.

Paje's confirmation will then be transmitted to the CA plenary for either approval or rejection.

The move came after an exhausted Senator Sergio OsmeAA+-a gave up and decided to end his questioning on Paje.

OsmeAA+-a lost his temper several times while he was questioning Paje over a DMCI project in Bolitoc, Sta Cruz in Zambales.

He even accused Paje of "barefacedly lying" before the committee when the Secretary insisted that the DMCI still has a valid environmental compliance certificate (ECC) to operate in the foreshore area.

"The one-year temporary provision permit issued to DMCI had expired on January 27, 2009 and that no renewal has been issued," OsmeAA+-a pointed out.

"We agree your honor," Paje said.

"But earlier you're making excuses..." the senator said.

OsmeAA+-a then showed to the committee a photo taken on June 4, 2014 which supposedly said that the firm was still operating.

'Now, is the DENR going to do something about this rather than allowing them to operate illegally? There's no ECC (environmental compliance certificate), there's no permit but its ok. What have you done about this?" he asked.

The senator further lost his cool when Paje pointed out the operator's claim that its ECC was still valid and that the Philippine Port Authority (PPA) recognizes its "occupancy."

"You always seem to lean over backwards in favor of the operator," OsmeAA+-a said.

The senator also snapped when the nominee kept on pointing to the PPA.

"I'm asking what the DENR is doing about it? The PPA is another issue, we probably have to investigate them too, but what is the DENR doing about this? Why are you passing the buck to the PPA?" he asked.

And when Paje repeated the operator's claim that it still has an ECC, OsmeAA+-a noted a letter which he said clearly states that the ECC should only exist for a period of 25 years upon the issuance or upon the termination of the foreshore lease agreement, whichever comes first.

"So you're lying. So I'm accusing you of barefacedly lying to the members of the committee..." he said.

The senator then moved to suspend and defer the consideration of Paje's confirmation but later withdrew his motion after some committee members approached him.

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Publication:Philippines Daily Inquirer (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Jun 10, 2014
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