MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Greenpeace to Lafayette: So sue us

Published by MAC on 2006-08-27

Greenpeace to Lafayette: So sue us

Philippine Daily Inquirer

27th August 2006

Published on page A3 of the August 27, 2006 issue of the Philippine Daily Inquirer

LEGAZPI CITY-Greenpeace activists have dared Lafayette Phil. and Sorsogon provincial officials to file charges of trespassing and prove their accusations that the international environmental group was out to sabotage the mining firm.

"We challenge them to provide evidence and give the names of people they are accusing of sabotage," said Beau Baconquis, the Greenpeace campaigner for Southeast Asia.

Greenpeace members on board the group's campaign ship, the MV Esperanza, paid a visit to Lafayette's controversial copper and gold mine on Rapu-Rapu island off the coast of Albay province.

There, the Greenpeace ship, which is here as part of a global campaign to defend the oceans, led a protest flotilla organized by local communities demanding that the mine be closed down.

Last Thursday, Greenpeace released a statement claiming that tests conducted by its scientists confirmed "very high levels of toxic metals" in water samples collected from a creek allegedly contaminated by the Rapu-Rapu gold mine.

The next day, Lafayette Phil. countered with a press statement saying it would take legal action against Greenpeace for trespassing and demand the expulsion of three members who climbed on the company's conveyor belt on Thursday to unfurl antimining banners for a photo opportunity.

Said Bayani Agabin, Lafayette's legal counsel and spokesperson: "Greenpeace has gone out of bounds in its irresponsible and counterproductive photo-ops that unfortunately some media outlets fall for. Recently they misrepresented themselves at the DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources) head office so they could go up the roof deck so photographers they had in tow could take pictures."

Sorsogon Gov. Raul Lee has condemned the DENR incident. He said the antimining campaigners had become destructive and must be dealt with by the authorities.

Lafayette also cited an incident a few weeks ago in which "unidentified people poured a huge amount of pesticide into a creek that is the source of clean water for the residents and started sending out text messages that Lafayette was to blame."

Gina Rodriguez, Inquirer Southern Luzon

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