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Philippines' Senator Manny 'Pacman' Pacquiao chats to Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Regina Lopez during a Commission on Appointment hearing at the Senate headquarters in Pasay city, metro Manila, Philippines March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco


MANILA (Reuters) - A Philippine congressional panel has deferred its decision on whether to confirm or reject the appointment of Environment Secretary Regina Lopez, the head of the panel said on Tuesday, and will conduct more hearings in May.

"Secretary Lopez's ad interim appointment is considered bypassed," Senator Manny Pacquiao told reporters. "In May, we will (re)open the hearing. We still have a lot of questions for her."

Bypassing Lopez means Congress is effectively deferring a decision on her appointment. Such a deferral allows Duterte either to reappoint her to his cabinet, or name someone else, until another confirmation hearing is done in future.

In the Philippines, confirmation hearings can take place long after ministers start work. Congress goes into recess from March 18 and will only resume sessions in May.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Joseph Radford)