MAC: Mines and Communities

Groups seek injunction vs Lafayette

Published by MAC on 2006-07-21

Groups seek injunction vs Lafayette

Philippine Daily Inquirer

21st July 2006

SEEKING to stop the mining activity in the town of Rapu-Rapu, Albay province, environment groups, concerned artists, and television personalities joined the island's residents Thursday and sought an injunction case against mining firm Lafayette Philippines Inc. (LPI) and Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes. Members of Kalikasan People's Network for the Environment, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya, personalities Chin-Chin Gutierrez and Miriam Quiambao, and residents of Rapu-Rapu filed the civil suit Thursday morning at the Makati City regional trial court to seek a stop to a 30-day test-run of Lafayette's polymetallic project.

"We learned recently that there was a new spill besides the two spills last year. So what we are saying is the permit for another test-run should have no effect anymore because it shows that their promises could not be fulfilled," said lawyer Howard Calleja.

"Now they promised to be safe, but there's a third mine spill, so what are we waiting for? Are we waiting for a disaster to happen?" Calleja continued, referring to a reported spillage at the onset of the test-run last week. Signed by 800 individuals, the petition asked for the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Australian mining firm from pursuing the test-run while the court has yet to decide on whether it would issue a permanent injunction.

"...We seek to enjoin respondents from further mining in the Rapu-Rapu area in view of the grave injustice and irreparable damage caused by mining activities and all those that may still be caused by them as a result of ongoing operations," the petition read.

The test-run, granted by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR), sought to check whether remedies the firm implemented to ensure the safety of its operations would be effective.

LPI's operations were suspended in November last year after two tailspills leaked toxic waste into creeks in the island last October. LPI was slapped with a 10.7 million-peso for the spill, blamed for widespread fishkill in the area.

"Future generations, residents and non-residents of Rapu-Rapu alike, are clearly entitled to enjoy the natural resources present in the fragile island ecosystem of Rapu-Rapu. To deprive them of such... will only be a clear and blatant violation of this present generation's role as stewards of the country's natural resources," the petition read.

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