May 4, 2017: DENR chief rapped for “extortion”

May 4, 2017: DENR chief rapped for “extortion”

A MINING company on Wednesday filed a graft complaint against outgoing Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, whose appointment was rejected by the Commission on Appointments.

In a complaint filed with the Office of the Ombudsman, Citinickel Mines Development Corp. accused Lopez of trying to extort P130 million for the benefit of a non-government organization she controls.

CMDC officials alleged that Lopez used her position to impose additional requirements on them after she froze their ore shipments.

These requirements, CMDC argued, were not only unreasonable, but unlawful as well since they do not have any legal basis and go beyond the mandate of the DENR.

Charges of violation of the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act, Code of Conduct and Ethical Standards for Public Officials and Employees and Red Tape Act of 2007, and illegal exaction have been filed against Lopez before the Ombudsman.

Through its legal counsel Lorna Kapunan, CMDC said Lopez not only disregarded their duly-entered 25-year mineral production sharing agreement (MPSA) with the DENR when she ordered their suspension, she also threw in hindrances that effectively scuttled the MPSA.

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