President Rodrigo Duterte didn’t discuss with a payoff for lawmakers when he remarked that “lobby money talks” following the Commission on Appointment’s rejection of former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez’s appointment, Malacañang said Wednesday (May 10).

In an announcement, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte “does not doubt the integrity of the Senate and the House of Representatives.”

He said that whereas Duterte talked about a “lobby” in a current speech on Lopez’s rejection, it didn’t mean bribery.

“He does not mean that the members of the Commission on Appointments were financially persuaded to take a position on Ms. Lopez’ appointment,” Abella said.

The Palace official said Duterte “remains faithful to his covenant of seeking justice for the wronged and the environment.”

“He trusts that all branches of government share the same commitment,” Abella said.

In a speech in Davao City shortly after Lopez misplaced her post, Duterte said it was doable that the previous Environment Secretary did not get the CA’s nod due to efforts exerted by sure curiosity teams.

“May mga gusto akong tao pero hindi ko kontrolado ang lahat. Pero I share powers. That is the process of check and balances,” he said.

Some lawmakers have cried foul over Duterte’s assertion, with Senator Panfilo Lacson saying it’s an affront to the CA’s integrity.

Abella lamented how the controversy surrounding Lopez’s affirmation was a cut up between pro-environment and pro-mining teams when the Duterte administration has been for accountable mining.

“The way the issues were framed seemed to imply a ‘lobby’ – or, an activity of a group (or groups) representing certain interests seeking to influence an outcome,” he said.