MAC/20: Mines and Communities

Church, NGOs call for Reyes' resignation over Lafayette

Published by MAC on 2006-06-17

Church, NGOs call for Reyes' resignation over Lafayette

Mark Ivan Roblas, Manila Times

17th June 2006

DISMAYED over the permit granted to Lafayette Philippines Inc. to conduct a test run on Rapu-Rapu Island in Albay, environmental groups on Friday asked Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes to resign for failing to protect the country's natural resources.

Trixie Concepcion, spokesman for Defend Patrimony, expressed doubts that Reyes, a former soldier, would be able defend the interests of the public after allowing the test run of Lafayette.

"Secretary Reyes should stop pretending that he is capable of protecting our environment and managing our natural resources. He is better off as a salesman or even a defender of foreign mining companies than anything else," Concepcion said.

She said allowing the test run is unacceptable considering the "blatant" violations of Lafayette as attested by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources itself.

Bishop Solito K. Toquero, convener of Stewards of Creation, a national network of Church leaders and lay people for environmental protection, said Reyes' decision disregarded the work of the Rapu-Rapu fact-finding commission which, according to him, did a very thorough and credible study on the effects of the operations on the residents.

"This is a very unfortunate, considering our experiences with mining: that transnational corporations gain the profits while the people suffer," Toquero said.

Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in the Philippines, said Reyes has turned away from "the ideals of heroes" in favoring Lafayette.

"In the face of massive destruction, we will be remiss in our responsibility as stewards of God's gifts if we do not raise a strong voice against this travesty," she said.

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