May 24. 2006
*NON CLOSURE OF LAFAYETTE IS SENDING THE WRONG SIGNAL*
Environmental groups and militant activists dumped dead fish, sludge and slurry in front of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to remind the government agency of its own lapses in dealing with Lafayette Philippine Inc., an Australian owned mining company operating on Rapu-rapu Islands, and to demand retribution. The protesters held a program criticizing the government's indecisiveness on Lafayette and denouncing President Arroyo's pro-foreign mining policy.
"We warn President Arroyo and DENR Sec. Angelo Reyes not to allow the law breaker and environmental offender Lafayette to operate again. Allowing Lafayette to continue its operations is sending the wrong message that mining TNCs may foul up our environment, violate laws, falsify legal documents, understate their revenues and taxes, deceive the people about their mining operations, and not fear much retribution. Lafayette, along with several government officials, is liable. They must be held accountable and be sent packing not only from Rapu-rapu but from the whole country," says Clemente Bautista Jr., national coordinator of environmental activists group Kalikasan-PNE.
Mr. Bautista expounds, "Until now officials of Lafayette deny that their mining operations caused any heavy metal contamination, posed danger to the health of the local populace of Rapu-rapu. They claim no culpability on the fish kills and mercury contamination that happened in the island. They have shown no remorse in their offenses and now pressure the government to allow them to operate again."
Lafayette brands the RFFC report and recommendation as unscientific and emotional. Lafayette claims that they already completed their environmental safety infrastructures and now demands for a test-run.
"There is no point in allowing Lafayette Philippines to do a test run to show that their operation has improved. The technology that Lafayette is using to control acid mine drainage (AMD) in the mine site is not appropriate and has been proven to be ineffective in a hilly terrain as in Rapu-rapu island," slams Frances Quimpo, Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Concerns-Philippines (CEC).
"The mining technology of Lafayette will enhance the production and leaching of acid products. With the situation in Rapu-rapu, being a small island ecosystem and where heavy precipitation is a normal occurrence, acid and toxic metal contamination of the water systems within and around the island would be a definite outcome." Ms. Quimpo adds.
The RFFC recommends an environmental rehabilitation on Rapu-rapu, permanently closed the Lafayette mining operation, and a mining moratorium implemented on the island. Malacanang ordered the DENR to review the findings of the Commission and stated that mining moratorium does not conform to the current mining policy of the government.
"President Arroyo will be dammed if she goes against the RFFC recommendations, forsake the people and environment of Rapu-rapu, and allow Lafayette to operate again. We will surely exhaust all means to close down Lafayette and her immediate ouster," ended by Mr. Bautista. ###