Cec Asserts Right To Freedom Of Expression And Public ParticipationPublished by MAC on 2007-08-20
Source: CEC-Phils ()
CEC asserts right to freedom of expression and public participation
Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines (CEC-Phils) Press Statement
20th August 2007
Last July 13, Lafayette Philippines filed libel raps against the Center for Environmental Concerns - Philippines (CEC-Phils) for publishing a primer entitled "Rapu-rapu: A Struggle against Mining Liberalization and Plunder in the Philippines." Among the statements that Lafayette deemed libelous were our assertions that the company "engaged in the illicit sale of the Philippine natural resources, had been deceitful in reporting its production, epitomized irresponsible mining, and had caused fish kills and various ailments in the community."
Let it be known, then, that we from the CEC are most ready to face the charges, and at this point, already plead not guilty. We stand by our statements, duly-supported as they are by no less than the findings of the Arroyo-convened Rapu-rapu Fact-Finding Commission (RRFFC), and of the scientific institutions we have referred to in the publication: the Institute for Environmental Conservation and Research, and of AGHAM (Advocates of Science and Technology for the People).
Interestingly, Lafayette did not file a case against these entities. Instead, it sued us, a non-government organization desiring to contribute to national and local efforts to conserve and protect the environment. For 18 years, we have closely worked with grassroots organizations and organized communities in their hope to survive and defend their access to natural resources, to nurture the environment and improve their living conditions. At the national level, the Center has continuously advocated people-oriented, patriotic, sustainable and scientific conservation of the Philippine environment.
With the said objectives, CEC has stood at the forefront of campaigns for pro-people and pro-environment policies. As an NGO promoting such an environmental advocacy, CEC finds it a social and moral obligation to disseminate information on environmental issues that are of public interest, and more so, when they concern the welfare of thousands of people.
In such campaigns, it is never our intention to malign the reputation of companies like Lafayette Philippines, Inc. We simply state facts, and the facts reveal that in the case of the Rapurapu project, Lafayette indeed fell short of the standards for responsible mining.
Moreover, we invoke in our defense two universally-recognized rights that are essential in a democratic society: the right to freedom of expression and the right to petition the government. We believe that Lafayette's civil lawsuit is a threat to our rights to expressing criticism of anomalous corporate and government activities and from influencing public policy, and hereby push for the immediate dismissal of the case.
Lafayette's legal efforts cannot thwart us. Instead, we are all the more inspired to fight for the people and the environment. Together with the Filipino people, the Center for Environmental Concerns shall continue to struggle for a mining policy that will truly benefit the Filipino masses and support national progress.###
Frances Q. Quimpo, executive director, 09178846325