MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Philippine protests proliferate

Published by MAC on 2006-02-01


Philippine protests proliferate

1st February 2006

The Isles are alive with the sound of protests! From Mindoro to Marinduque, from Albay to All the Bishops - the Philippine government hasn't been under such intense pressure for a decade.


Mindoro nickel project issued with cease and desist order Mahal Inc.

by Ned de Guzman, MAHAL, Inc.

1st February 2006

The Provincial Governor of Oriental Mindoro, Atty Arnan C. Panaligan disclosed on 30 January, 2006 during the rally attended by some 12,000 people in the town of Pola, this province that the Provincial Government has issued a "cease and desist" order to the proponents of the Mindoro Nickel Project.

The Provincial Government of Oriental Mindoro (PGOM) thru its Provincial Legal Officer Atty Lorrybelle M. Tanyaghas demanded, ordered and directed the Aglubang Mining Corporation, subsidiary of CREW Gold Corporation, to immediately cease and desist from engaging and performing any activity related to mining within the vicinity of the Municipality of Victoria and other parts of the province of Oriental Mindoro, otherwise the PGOM shall be constrained to file the necessary legal action against the said Corporation.

The Cease and Desist order is contained in Atty Tanyag's letter to Aglubang Mining Corporation thru Atty Ben delos Reyes dated January 24, 2006. According to the Provincial Legal Officer, "recently, validated reports were lodged in this office that Aglubang Mining Corporation is presently engaging in various explorarory and mining activities somewhere in the Municipality of Victoria which is a clear and direct violation of our Provincial Ordinance No. 01-2002 entitled 'Ordinansang Nagtatakda ng 25 Taong Moratorium sa Lahat ng Pagmimina sa Lalawigan ng Silangang Mindoro at Pagbibigay ng mga Ekspresyon at Pagpapataw ng Kaparusahan Hinggil Dito.'"

The Provincial Legal Officer added, "We fought so long and we have maintained our position. NO TO MINING! We have studied and experienced the devastating effect when our natural resources were exploited. We have already "tested the waters" and we have tasted the "fist and fury" of Nature. Again, we are reiterating our policy, NO TO MINING!"

A caravan-rally was conducted to celebrate the 4th Anniversary of the passage of the Provincial Ordinance calling for a 25 year moratorium on large scale mining in the province of Oriental Mindoro. Lead by the PGOM, the Church and the Alyansa Laban sa Mina, the rally showed the unity of all the sectors in the whole province against the Mindoro Nickel Project. The said project has no social acceptability, only social opposition.


Not just cyanide: Study shows toxic heavy metals also caused contamination from Lafayette mine spill

by Defend Patrimony

1st February 2006

In a press conference, environmental activist groups presented recent laboratory results showing evidence that not only cyanide but also toxic heavy metals accounted for contamination from two mine spills from the Rapu-rapu Polymetallic Project operated by Lafayette Mining Inc. in AlbayThe laboratory tests were undertaken as part of the fact-finding mission conducted by the research NGO Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC) and the environmental alliance Defend Patrimony in the aftermath of the mine tailing spillage that occurred first on Oct. 11 and the second on Oct. 31 last year.

The fact-finding team took 34 sediment samples from creeks, rivers and communities affected by or near the mine spill. The samples were analyzed by the Environmental Engineering Department of the College of Engineering in UP Diliman, detecting the presence of heavy metals.

"All samples are acidic and tested positive for the presence of toxic heavy metals such as cadmium chromium, lead, arsenic and mercury. Samples taken near the tailing pond which spilled mine waste last year, exceeded the safety standard for mercury," said Januar Ong, CEC's Research Specialist.

Sediments near the mine spill were found to have mercury content of 0.999 part per million (ppm) or milligram mercury per kilogram of sediments. The government's allowable standard is only 0.20 ppm for industries permitted to dispose industrial wastes.

"These results indicate that the mining operation and mine spill of LMI caused the toxic heavy metal contamination of nearby creeks and communities in Bgy. Binosawan," said Ong.

"It also validates previous studies that the Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) phenomenon which accompanies surface mining is occurring in the area."

AMD is water polluted with high levels of iron, aluminium and sulphuric acid. It is a consequence of mining activities in sulphide-bearing rocks. It was previously confirmed in Bgy Pagcolbon and upper slopes of Sta. Barbara in a research study by the Ateneo de Naga University.

"LMI cannot claim that the high level of heavy metals, particularly mercury, is not of its doing. It uses cyanide leaching method to extract gold, causing the release of mercury and other heavy metals in the ores," explained Ong.

Meanwhile, Andy Salatan of the UP Institute of Chemistry and member of the militant scientists' organization AGHAM says "the presence of toxic heavy metals in Rapu-rapu Island poses great danger to the people and the immediate environment."

"The fish kill that happened and the decrease of fish catch are possible immediate effects of the mine spill. Mercury and other heavy metals bio-accumulate in the bodies of living organism including humans. They cause toxic related diseases and illnesses such as cancer, fetal deformation and mental retardation."

Diseases related to mining were common and documented in several mining communities in the Philippines like in Marinduque, Negros Oriental, Surigao del Sur and Samar. Mr. Salatan said there is a need to conduct a comprehensive study in these areas to determine the real extent of toxic contamination and its dangers to the communities.

"We call for the permanent closure of LMI's mining operation in the island," Clemente Bautista of KALIKASAN-People's Network for the Environment demanded.

"LMI should immediately rehabilitate the affected areas, provide medical assistance and compensate the local people for the loss of income and livelihood brought about by their operation and mining spill. The environmental tragedies and social displacement now taking place in Rapu-rapu and other mining affected communities in the country far outweigh the claimed benefits of corporate mining in the country."

Defend Patrimony spokesperson Trixie Concepcion also denounced the Macapagal-Arroyo administration's "efforts to deceive, pressure, and co-opt the CBCP which has aligned itself with the clamor of the people to stop the 24 large-scale mining projects of the Arroyo administration and the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995."

"What the people want is a mining policy that is geared towards national industrialization, and genuine development that guarantees environmental protection and respects people's rights," Concepcion adds.

Reference:

Clemente Bautista 9248756, 09283448797
Januar Ong 9209099, 09106545063
Andy Salatan 09178589776

kalikasan.pne@gmail.com, kpne@edsamail.com.ph
26 Matulungin St. Central District Quezon City.


"Delist" San Antonio Copper Project from the Mining Priority Areas!

Marinduque Declaration, adopted on January 31, 2006 during the Second Church-Local Government Leaders' Roundtable Discussion on Social Concerns in Boac, Marinduque.

"As long as Marinduque's mountains remain rich in desirable metals, Marinduqueños will have to remain eternally vigilant to protect the island from further mining" - (Rafael M. Lim, D.D., First Bishop of Boac)

We, Church leaders, government officials and civil society organization repre-sentatives, after reflecting on and scrutinizing the realities in our island-province of Marinduque specifically our collective experiences for the past 30 years of hosting large-scale mining projects , do hereby declare:

1. That series of disasters due to large scale-mining operations blighted our once culturally peaceful island and for the same period, we, as a people, through various institutions and people's collective actions, have demonstrated our collective struggle for environmental justice as can be gleaned from petitions, resolutions, manifestos, and cases filed in the various executive, legislative and judicial institutions in the country but justice has been so elusive.

2. That instead of sparing the remaining bounty of the natural environment of the island-province and addressing the various environmental health and livelihood concerns of our communities, the national government responded by putting the SAN ANTONIO COPPER PROJECT in the list of mining priority areas under the Mineral Action Plan and mining revitalization program of the present national administration;

3. That the inclusion of the San Antonio Copper Project in the mining priority list is insulting for us, Marinduqueños, and really shows callous disregard of the national government for the suffering of our children, women and men as a result of large-scale mining. It is quite clear that the government still don't realize the gravity of environmental problems in our province, just don't care about the poor people's welfare, or has lost all capacity to function as a sovereign government for the best interest of its people and the nation's future. Whichever it is or a combination of all three, there resides in the Marinduqueños a deeply rooted sense of justice and rights and a long history of willingness to fight for those rights in the face of oppression.

4. That our struggle for environmental justice is no different or less important than that of illustrious Marinduqueño revolutionaries of the past who made history in the rare victories against the Americans in the Battle of Paye on July 31, 1900 and in the Battle of Pulang Lupa on September 13, 1900.We, Marinduqueños will continue the struggle.

5. That our experiences proved that after 30 years of hosting three large-scale mining projects (Consolidated Mines Project, Tapian Copper Mine Project, and San Antonio Copper Mine Project), our beloved province remains one of the only 7 Fourth Class provinces in the country; ranked as 14th poorest province in the Philippines; ranked as having the 3rd most denuded forests; and, has a high poverty incidence of 71.9%;

6. That on October 4, 2005, the people of Marinduque through the provincial Government filed a complaint in Nevada, USA against Placer Dome, Inc., to seek justice for our environment, for our livelihood, and for the violation of our rights and more importantly, for the future and next generation of Marinduqueños, who are the real owners of this island-paradise.

7. That on October 28, 2005, the 10th Sangguniang Panlalawigan of Marinduque, in a historic display of political will, declared a 50-year large-scale mining moratorium in Marinduque to give reprieve to the remaining natural bounty of the province and in order to strengthen the case filed in the United States. Yet the national government kept on 'selling' our island-paradise to foreign investors.

We, therefore, support the January 29, 2006 Pastoral Statement of the Catholic Bishops, Conference of the Philippines especially its call "to stop the 24 Priority Mining Projects of the government, and the closure of arge-scale mining projects;

We specifically call on Her Excellency, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and other concerned agencies of the national government to immediately remove or 'delist' the SAN ANTONIO COPPER PROJECT from the priority mining projects of her administration.

We finally call on the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995 in defense of our national patrimony

Signed:-

Reynaldo G Evangelista D.D.
Bishop of BOAC

Edmindo O. Reyes Jr.
Representatives, Lone Distroct of Marinduque

Msgr. Senen M Malapad
MACEC Executive Chairman

Carmencita O. Reyes
Provincial Governor, Marinduque


Philippines Bishops Oppose Mining Deals

by All Associated Press News

29th January 2006

MANILA, Philippines (AP) - Influential Catholic bishops on Sunday urged Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to repeal a 1995 act that liberalized the mining industry and cancel all concessions, warning of massive environmental damage and the loss of mining resources to giant foreign companies.

Arroyo has vigorously encouraged foreign mining corporations to invest in the country to bolster the ailing economy and create jobs in a politically difficult time. She has been hounded since last year by a debilitating crisis over corruption and vote-rigging allegations.

The 120-member Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement during their three-day annual retreat in Manila expressing concern over the presence of foreign mining companies.

The 1995 Philippine Mining Act allows foreign companies to explore and develop mining sites in partnership with the government.

Supporting the call of several non-governmental groups including tribal communities, the bishops asked Arroyo to stop 24 large-scale government mining projects, citing six gold and copper mining companies.

"The promised economic benefits of mining by these transnational corporations are outweighed by the dislocation of communities especially among our indigenous brothers and sisters, the risks to health and livelihood, and massive environmental damage," the bishops said in the statement.

"Our experiences of environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational corporations belie all assurances of sustainable and responsible mining that the Arroyo administration is claiming," they said.

Mining areas remain among the country's poorest regions, they said.

Last year, Philippine mining officials ordered the suspension of a US$42-million flagship project funded by Australian and South Korean investors after cyanide-laced waste spilled and killed fish on Rapu-Rapu island, 380 kilometers (235 miles) southeast of Manila.

In 1996, millions of tons of mine waste from an impounding dam of the Marcopper Mining Corp. spilled into a river on central Marinduque island, creating an environmental disaster. The mine was subsequently closed by the government.


A STATEMENT ON MINING ISSUES AND CONCERNS

29th January 2006

"Do not defile the land where you live and where I dwell" (Num. 35:34)

Sisters and Brothers in Christ: We are Pastors. We listen to the voice of the flock and take care of them. In our task to care for them, we reiterate our concern for the Earth, the source of life for all.

1 In 1998, we in the CBCP issued "A Statement of Concern on the Mining Act of 1995". We declared that the government mining policy is offering our lands to foreigners with liberal conditions while our people continue to grow in poverty. (par 4) We stated that the adverse social impact on the affected communities far outweigh the gains promised by mining Trans-National Corporations (TNCs). (par 8) In our 1998 statement we also forewarned that the "implementation of the Mining Act will certainly destroy both environment and people and will lead to national unrest." (par 9)

2 We reaffirm our stand for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995. We believe that the Mining Act destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people's right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life. Furthermore, mining threatens people's health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailings in rivers and seas.

3Our experiences of environmental tragedies and incidents with the mining transnational corporations belie all assurances of sustainable and responsible mining that the Arroyo Administration is claiming. Increasing number of mining affected communities, Christians and non-Christians alike, are subjected to human rights violations and economic deprivations. We see no relief in sight.

4 President Arroyo's "Mining Revitalization Program" is encouraging further the entry and operation of large-scale mining of TNCs.Alarmingly, the mining tenements granted through the program have encroached into seventeen (17) of important biodiversity areas, into thirty-five (35) of national conservation priority areas, and thirty-two (32) of national integrated protected areas. The promised economic benefits of mining by these transnational corporations are outweighed by the dislocation of communities especially among our indigenous brothers and sisters, and the risks to health and livelihood and massive environmental damage. Mining areas remain among the poorest areas in the country such as, the mining communities in CARAGA, Bicol and Cordillera Regions. The cultural fabric of indigenous peoples is also being destroyed by the entry of mining corporations.

5 Moreover, we are apprehensive that the proposed deletion of the nationalist provisions in the Constitution by the Consultative Commission (CONCOM) can pave the way to the wholesale plunder of our National Patrimony, and undermine our Sovereignty.

6 We reiterate our request to the President to recall all approved mining concessions, and to disapprove pending applications.

7 As Shepherds we remind the faithful of God's injunction to us through our first parents to care for and cultivate the Earth (Genesis 2:15). As believers, we should live a lifestyle that is outwardly simple yet inwardly rich and compassionate to the Earth community.We therefore call on all religious leaders:

a.. To support, unify and strengthen the struggle of the local Churches and their constituency against all mining projects, and raise the anti-mining campaign at the national level;

b.. To support the call of various sectors, especially the Indigenous Peoples, to stop the 24 Priority Mining Projects of the government, and the closure of large-scale mining projects, for example, the Rapu-rapu Polymetallic Project in Albay, HPP Project in Palawan, Didippio Gold-Copper Project in Nueva Vizcaya, Tampakan Copper-gold Project in South Cotabato, Canatuan Gold Project in Zamboanga del Norte, and the San Antonio Copper Project in Marinduque, among others;

c.. To support the conduct of studies on the evil effects of mining in dioceses;

d.. To support all economic activities that are life-enhancing and poverty-alleviating.
8 As we have said our 1998 statement, "even our best efforts will come to nothing without the help of God, our Creator.We invoke upon you the grace of the Holy Spirit who renews the face of the earth. With gratitude in our hearts we ask the intercession of Mary the Mother of Jesus and our Mother to obtain for us a renewed land and a converted people."

For the Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines,

Angel N. Lagdameo, D.D.

President

Archbishop of Jaro


Bishops bag Filipino mining

by Michael Quinn

30th January 2006

http://www.miningnews.net/StoryView.asp?StoryID=53065

CATHOLIC bishops in the Philippines have reportedly urged the Filipino Government of Gloria Arroyo to cancel mining concessions in the country, warning of environmental damage and the loss of resources to foreign mining companies. Associated Press said the 120-member Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines issued a statement calling for a repeal of the 1995 Philippine Mining Act that allows foreign companies to own up to 100% of large mining projects.

While no names were disclosed, the newswire reported the bishops asking Arroyo to stop 24 large-scale government mining projects, citing six gold and copper mining companies.

Adding some ammunition to the bishops' claims would be the recent misadventures of Lafayette Mining at its Rapu Rapu project, where wastewater from a treatment plant was accidentally released into the sea.

However with the Philippines historically being a Catholic stronghold, some proponents of mining claim the religious order has concerns about losing its influence over its constituents with the modernisation of the country from foreign investment.

Disclosure: The reporter holds shares in a company active in the Philippines


CBCP for poll reforms, vs no-el - Expresses its belief that mining destroys life

by LESLIE ANN G. AQUINO, Manila Bulletin

29th January 2006

http://www.mb.com.ph/MAIN2006013055078.html

Bares stands on other nat'l issues

The Catholic Bishops' Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) yesterday made clear its stand against the proposal to scrap the elections scheduled for next year.

At the same time, the influential group of Catholic bishops said it does "not support hasty efforts to change" the Constitution, adding that Charter reforms are best done "through a Constitutional Convention."

More than 100 members of the CBCP attended the plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Center in Manila, led by its president, Archbishop Angel Lagdameo.

In a four-page pastoral letter entitled "Renewing our Public Life through Moral Values," the bishops said that while they agree that certain aspects of the Constitution may need to be amended or revised, they do not "support hasty efforts to change this fundamental law of the land without the widespread discussion and participation that such changes require."

"We continue to believe, as we did in our Statement on Charter Change in 2003, that changing the Constitution involving major shifts in the form of government, requires widespread participation, total transparency, and relative serenity that allows for rational discussion and debate. This is best done through a Constitutional Convention," the CBCP letter said.

The bishops said that elections in 2007 should continue, saying that in a democracy power emanates from the people.

Lagdameo cited a passage in the book Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church which states "that the subject of political authority is the people considered in its entirety. This people transfers the exercise of sovereignty to those whom it freely elects but it preserves the prerogative of evaluating those charged with governing, and in replacing them when they do not fulfill their functions satisfactorily."

With regard to other political issues such as the legitimacy of the presidency of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, the bishops said: "We recommend that the search for truth be relentlessly pursued through structures and processes mandated by law and our Constitution, such as the Ombudsman, the Commission on Audit, the Commission on Human Rights, the Sandiganbayan, and Congress itself as well as other citizens' groups. This requires that such bodies be led and run by credible people, persons of integrity and probity."

The CBCP letter also called for electoral reforms. "Confidence and trust in our political processes have to be restored. As a first step we strongly urge our political leaders to undertake electoral reforms posthaste," it said.

"The Commission on Elections has to be transformed into a competent and reliable body beyond reproach. The call for resignation or even prosecution of a number of the Commissioners should not be lightly brushed aside. The electoral process, including counting of votes, needs to be reformed and modernized before the next elections.

The bishops also rejected resorting to violence to resolve the country's crisis. "We also reiterate our stand in our July 2005 statement that we do not condone resort to violence or counter-constitutional means in resolving our present crisis. These measures would only bring about new forms of injustice, more hardships, and greater harm in the future," the CBCP statement said.

The bishops said they believe that at the bottom of the country's political chaos is a crisis of moral values, a crisis of truth and justice, of unity and solidarity.

As such, the bishops committed themselves to do the following:

1. "To adopt a more systematic program of promoting the moral values that are indicated in seven (of the nine) pastoral priorities drawn up at the 2001 National Pastoral Consultation on Church Renewal such as integral faith formation, empowerment of the laity among others.

2. "To continue the formation of Basic Ecclesial Communities and other faith communities at the grassroots, towards a deeper spirituality of heroic Christian citizenship, and towards encouraging the laudable efforts of these communities at nation-building.

3. "To promote a spirituality of public service, integrity and stewardship among public servants and citizens' groups alike.

4. "To bring together various concerned citizens' groups that are working for good governance in order to encourage better collaboration among them in the mobilization of the governed to check graft and corruption and to work for better public services.

5. "To declare this year 2006 as a Social Concerns Year under the auspices of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Sacred Heart of Jesus.

6. "To accompany our efforts with prayer and penance and a deep trust in the transformative power of God's grace in the lives of individuals as well as of societies."

In parting, the bishops said they are doing all these because they want "to be faithful to the Lord's command of love, and His call to His followers to care for all peoples, especially those whom He sees as the 'least of My brothers and sisters.'"

They expressed hope that through their efforts and with the help of the people, they will be able to heal and renew the country's flawed political culture and corrupted public life. "In doing this, we show our solidarity with the poor who suffer most from the present state of public life and politics," Lagdameo said.

Meanwhile, in another pastoral letter entitled "A Statement of Mining Issues and Concerns" read by Sorsogon Bishop Arturo Bastes, the bishops reiterated their concern for the Earth.

"We reaffirm our stand for the repeal of the Mining Act of 1995. We believe that the Mining Act destroys life. The right to life of people is inseparable from their right to sources of food and livelihood. Allowing the interests of big mining corporations to prevail over people's right to these sources amounts to violating their right to life.

"Furthermore, mining threatens people's health and environmental safety through the wanton dumping of waste and tailing in rivers and seas," Bastes said.

It is for these reasons, he said, that the CBCP is reiterating its request to the President to recall all approved mining concessions, and to disapprove pending applications.

"As believers, the people must live a lifestyle that is outwardly simple yet inwardly rich and compassionate to the Earth community," the CBCP statement said.

The bishops called on all religious leaders to:

1. "Support, unify and strengthen the struggle of the local Churches and their constituency against all mining projects, and raise the anti-mining campaign at the national level.

2. Support the call of various sectors, especially the indigenous peoples to stop the 24 priority mining projects of the government.

3. Support the conduct of studies on the evil effects of mining in dioceses; and

4. Support all economic activities that are life-enhancing and poverty-alleviating."

Also present during yesterday's press conference, aside from Lagdameo and Bastes, were Bishop Antonio Ledesma of Ipil and Bishop Reynaldo Evangelista of Boac.

The next plenary assembly of the bishops will be in July this year.


Lafayette to appeal fine for mine spill

by The Age (Australia)

25th January 2006

Junior miner Lafayette Mining Ltd is lodging an appeal against the fine handed down by the Philippines government for two water spills from its Rapu Rapu mine last year. Operations at the polymetallic mine on the island of Rapu Rapu have been suspended until Lafayette meets conditions imposed by the regulator in the wake of the spills, alleged to have released cyanide into local waters.

Lafayette chief executive Andrew McIlwain told shareholders at a meeting in Melbourne that the miner had already worked through the two spills with the regulator when the government issued a 10.4 million peso ($A263,000) fine earlier this month.

The company is lodging an appeal against the fine on the advice of its newly-appointed local management team.

"There are some factual errors in what's been put to us in that assessment and it is about whether or not we correct the record," Mr McIlwain said after the meeting.

"But it is not our focus - our focus is to get on with what we need to do to ensure that all the stakeholders are satisfied and we can operate on a sustainable basis."

Mr McIlwain said the levels of cyanide found by initial testing by the regulator were of a much higher level than could have been caused by the spills and a new testing method had now been agreed.

He said the environmental impact of the spills had been blown out of proportion and the matter had become a political football.

Lafayette is working to expand its tailings storage facility to prevent further spills and to meet a list of conditions to reassure its financiers ahead of reopening the mine.

Mr McIlwain said the timing of the restart would be dependent on the weather, but could be as soon as mid February.

The Rapu Rapu mine holds gold, silver, copper and zinc with a resource of about 589,245 ounces of gold at the key Ungay deposit and another estimated 129,000 ounces at the adjacent Hixbar deposit.

Lafayette is the first foreign miner to begin work in the Philippines for decades and its project has been promoted by the government as heralding a new era of investment and mining development.

Lafayette shares closed down 0.5 of a cent at 14.5 cents on Wednesday.


Pregnant Dugong found dead in toxic waters of Rapu-rapu Island For Immediate Release - Defend Patrimony

26th January 2006

A pregnant Dugong (Dugong dugon) or baboy daga, a rare marine mammal, was found dead at Sitio Gogon, Brarangay Poblacion, Rapu-rapu, Albay, one of the affected areas of the toxic mine tailings spill of Australian owned Lafayette Mining Inc . Local fisherfolk found the Dugong in the morning of January 25, 2006. They suspected that the Dugong's death is because of its exposure to toxic chemicals present in the seawaters of Rapu-rapu Island.

Dugong is a large marine mammal belonging to a group of animals known as Sirenians. It has a grey brown bulbous animal with a flattened fluked tail, like that of a whale, no dorsal fins, with paddle like flippers and distinctive head shape.It is classified a vulnerable specie by the Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). In the Philippines Dugong is considered as endangered animal.

Fr. Felino Bugauisan local Assistant Parish Priest and spokeperson of Sagip Isla said that "This is the first time we found a dead Dugong in our Island. We did not experience any fish kill and Dugong dying in our sea before the mining operation and cyanide spill of LMI. This validates the toxic effects of the cyanide and other heavy metals in the mine tailings spilled from the mining operation of LMI last October 11 and November 1 2005.The threat of contamination still lingers in the island, contrary to the claims of LMI and DENR that the incident has been sufficiently addressed and its effects have been contained." Sagip Isla is a local movement in the island opposing and calling for the closure of Polymetallic Mining Project of LMI.

"The cyanide spill and the voluminous toxic mine tailings that have been dumped in Rapu-Rapu island has caused the contamination of the seagrass and poisoning of sealife including the Dugong. Dugong is a sea mammal that naturally feeds on seagrasses found on shallow waters of coastal areas. On the average, it eats 25 kilos of seagrass a day. The presence of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, lead and arsenic in their food is fatal to Dugong," explains by Clemente Bautista of Defend Patrimony. Defend Patrimony is a national alliance opposing large-scale mining projects and the mining liberalization program of the Arroyo administration

Aside from Dugong, whale sharks, commonly known as Butanding are also found in Rapu-Rapu Island. The people and local government of Sorsogon also opposes the LMI large-scale mining project because it is affecting the multimillion whale watching tourism in the province. Rapu-Rapu Island and Donsol, Sorsogon is the natural sanctuary of Butanding and Dugong.

"Until now, the people and fisherfolks of Rapu-rapu Island are reeling from the effects of mine tailings spill of LMI. The volume of our fish catch drastically decreased and people from other places is still afraid to buy our catch for fear of toxic poisoning," added by Fr. Bugauisan. .

Mr. Bautista states that "The LMI cyanide spill, the fish kill and the death of Dugong in the Island only shows why the DENR can not be trusted with the protection of people's wefare and the environment.The situation also affirms that there is no such thing as environmental-friendly mining operation under the mining revitalization program of the Arroyo administration."

Sagip Isla and Defend Patrimony reiterate their demand for the closure of the Lafayette mining operation in the island. On Monday they will join the presentation of the laboratory results of the local samples drawn by an Independent Investigative Mission, led by the Center for Environmental Concerns (CEC), on the immediate impacts of the Rapu-rapu incident.

For Reference:
Fr. Felino Bugawisan 09214853771
Enteng Bautista 09283448797

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