MANILA - Malacañang said President Rodrigo Duterte's remark on the involvement of "lobby money" in the rejection of Gina Lopez as environment chief was not meant to diminish the integrity of the Commission on Appointments (CA).
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Sunday said the President's statement only highlights the existence of "certain vested interests" in the appointment of government officials.
"This, however, does not in any way diminish the integrity of the Commission on Appointments. Some members of the Commission have decided according to principle and conscience and even came out to explain their votes," he said.
Earlier, Senator Panfilo Lacson slammed Duterte for the "sweeping assault" on the integrity of the CA, calling the President's remark inappropriate and uncalled for.
"While I am sure the president's 'money lobby talks' comment does not apply to me and I have already cited my reasons for rejecting Ms. Lopez, I think it is unfortunate if not inappropriate and uncalled for," said Lacson in a statement.
Abella, meanwhile, reiterated that Duterte respects the independence of the CA.
"The fact that he did not interfere during the confirmation process of the erstwhile DENR Secretary shows his deference to the body," said Abella.