Philippine Environment Secretary Regina Lopez was sacked on Wednesday when lawmakers rejected her appointment, in a big victory for the mining industry which she had accused of corruption and abuse.
Lopez had sent shockwaves through the industry during her 10 months as environment chief, seeking to shut down roughly two-thirds of the nation's existing mines and banning any new open-pit operations.
However, despite the strong support of President Rodrigo Duterte who had threatened to shut down the mining industry completely, a congressional body rejected Lopez's appointment.
"If you want to be confirmed, don't go against big business!" an angry Lopez shouted during a long press conference after the ruling.
"It's wrong when lawmakers don't stand up for the rights of every Filipino, but rather big business. It's really very wrong."
With the Philippines being the world's biggest supplier of nickel ore and a major source of copper, Lopez's campaign had impacted global commodity prices.
Lopez had sought to shut down 28 of the nation's 40 mines and cancel the contracts of dozens of others.
Last week she also announced the ban on open-pit mining, which would have sounded the death knell for one of the world's biggest planned copper projects in the south of the country.
Mining Inc had run a high-profile campaign to have the Commission on Appointments reject her, arguing she was jeopardising the lives of 1.2mn people who were dependent on the industry.
The Chamber of Mines released a statement on Wednesday thanking the commission for its quick decision.
"This is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new chapter for the mining industry," the statement said.
Environment groups expressed outrage.
"The rejection demonstrates the continued control of powerful destructive industries such as mining in the country's legislative houses, and the reform promised to Filipinos is a sham," the Green Thumb coalition, grouping dozens of environment groups, said in a statement.
"It clearly shows where the heart of the Duterte administration is, and clearly it is manifested with big and powerful mining companies."
Congress rejecting a president's cabinet appointment is extremely rare in Philippine politics.
But, despite Duterte's ruling coalition having a majority in both houses of congress, Lopez was the second of his appointments to be rejected.
Perfecto Yasay was in March dumped as foreign secretary when the commission on appointments ruled he had lied in congressional hearings about him holding American citizenship.
LEAVE A COMMENT Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*
Philippines vows strict screening of Covid-19 vaccine
New Zealand election date in doubt as coronavirus returns
Singapore crushes ivory from 300 elephants to deter illegal trade
Coronavirus returns to New Zealand after 102 days
Duterte offers himself for Russia vaccine trial
Philippines reports new daily high of nearly 7,000 Covid-19 infections
Rival Thai protests raise fears of return to violence
Thai protesters stage anti-government rally despite activists release
Philippines records most virus cases in East Asia