MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Bishop, Bicolanos and environmental activists condemn resumption of Lafayette mining operation

Published by MAC on 2006-07-10

Bishop, Bicolanos and environmental activists condemn resumption of Lafayette mining operation

10th July 2006

Press Release - Kalikasan-PNE

"You can count on it. Our campaign to save the people and environment of Rapu-rapu Island continues. We will do everything to drive out Lafayette Philippines, Inc (LPI) in our communities. We will intensify our protests and will file legal actions against LPI," vows Fr. Felino Bagauisan, Coordinator of Sagip Isla, a local alliance in Rapu-rapu opposing La Fayette mining. "We, Bicolanos will go out of the street tomorrow to condemn the re-opening and demand the permanent closure of Lafayette mining."

Last Friday DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes flew to Rapu-rapu and gave the green light to the resumption of the poly-metallic mining project of Lafayette in the island starting today (July 10, 2006).

"We strongly object to the DENR Sec. Angelo Reyes' approval for the irresponsible mining company, Lafayette Philippines to resume operations. The re-opening of Lafayette endangers the health and safety of our people. Based on our experience, other scientific studies and expert opinions, Lafayette's large-scale mining project in the small island ecosystem of Rapu-rapu, is inappropriate and detrimental to the environment and the lives of our people in Rapu-rapu, Albay and Sorsogon," slams Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, head of the now defunct Rapu-rapu Fact-finding Commission (RFFC). "We will hold the DENR Secretary and Lafayette responsible for further danger and damages that will occur in the area," Bishop Bastes adds.

Lafayette mining operation was suspended on November 2005 because of the water contamination brought about by the tailings spills last October 11 and 31, 2005. Last March 2006, the government commissioned the RFFC to investigate the mining incidents. In its report, RFFC recommended the permanent closure of Lafayette and issuance of moratorium on large-scale mining in Rapu-rapu.

"The re-opening of Lafayette demonstrates how indifferent the Arroyo administration and the DENR are to the demands of the people and the protection of the environment. It has no qualms in giving in to the interest of transnational mining companies like Lafayette. The DENR's action on Lafayette validates that under the liberalization policy of Mining Act, foreign mining companies can despoil our environment, endanger the people's health, and even cheat the government of taxes and still be assured of mining rights in the country" says Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan-PNE.

In the report of both the RFFC and DENR, Lafayette was found to be negligent in its mining operations and violating environmental laws. Its mining project was also deemed to be grossly disadvantageous to the government.

"The mining spills in Rapu-rapu and the continued operation of a proven irresponsible mining company like Lafayette are glaring proof of how environmentally destructive, anti-people and pro-foreign interest the current 'Mining Revitalization Program' of President Arroyo is. The program should be trashed along with the Mining Act of 1995. Only under a more progressive and patriotic mining framework can the country look forward to a genuinely experience responsible mining and optimize benefits from this economic endeavor," said in the statement of Kalikasan-PNE.

Reference:

Fr. Felino Bugauisan - 09214853771

CLEMENTE BAUTISTA
No.26 Matulungin St. Bgy, Central, Quezon City , Philippines 1100
Tel. No. +63-2-9248756 Fax No. +63-2-9209099

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