Friday, June 16, 2006

Anti-Lafayette groups, demand DENR Sec. Reyes resignation

June 6, 2006

Anti-Lafayette groups, demand DENR Sec. Reyes resignation

"DENR Sec. Angelo 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" quips Trixie Concepcion, spokesperson of Defend Patrimony, a broad alliance opposing large-scale mining projects and mining revitalization program of the government.

In their statement, Defend Patrimony casted serious doubts on the competence of DENR. Sec. Angelo Reyes to assume the top environmental post following his decision to allow Lafayette's test run for 30 days, after affirming the strong criticisms lobbied by the Rapurapu Fact Finding Commission.

"It just does not make sense at all! A totally brainless move! After affirming that the Lafayette mining project is grossly disadvantageous to the government, that Lafayette is indeed an irresponsible miner, and that the DENR offices allowed Lafayette in violating our environmental laws, Secretary Reyes is now saying that to correct these flaws we have to allow Lafayette to continue enjoying its privileges of reaping profits from plundering our mineral wealth and give it another chance to improve? Why should the government do that?" said in the statement.

"The DENR decision represents a patently bankrupt political position! Since it was not able to deny the major findings of the Rapu-rapu Fact-Finding Commission, with the strong evidences and hard scientific basis presented therein, it faced a dead-end situation when it had to bare-faced admit that their decision is far from scientific, environmentally sound and socially just, as it should be. They could not debunk nor cover up the responsibility and culpability of Lafayette and hide the fact that the polymetallic mining project in Rapu-rapu does not benefit the government. Yet, the DENR could not follow the recommendation of RFFC to permanently close Lafayette and impose moratorium in Rapu-rapu because President Arroyo and her minion DENR Sec. Angelo Reyes remain subordinated to the interest of foreign transnational mining companies," says Ms. Concepcion.

"The recommendations of the Bastes Commission are crystal clear and are backed with evidences: an end to the operations of Lafayette, a moratorium on mining in Rapu-rapu and a review of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995. How can the DENR Sec. Reyes sideline these recommendations when they resonate with the people's demands," says Ms Sharon Rose Joy Ruiz-Duremdes, General Secretary of National Council of Churches of the Philippines.

In the report, Sec. Reyes said the DENR 'feels' that the best option to take is to allow Lafayette to resume operation subject to certain stringent pre-conditions. It further said that not allowing Lafayette to operate again will lead to the entry of small-scale miners in Rapu-rapu and the cost of decommissioning of mining and its rehabilitation will be shouldered by the Filipino taxpayers.

What do we need such an environmental secretary for? When he is clearly incapable of protecting the environment? Or protecting national patrimony against foreign vested interests," asks Fr. Ino Bagaoisan, spokesperson of Sagip Isla, a people's organization in Rapu-rapu island calling for the closure of Lafayette.

"Lafayette is responsible for the mine spills. It is they who made the open-pit in Rapu-rapu, and it is they who violated our laws, clearly Lafayette should be made to pay the cost of the rehabilitation! Why threaten the people with the specter of shouldering the cost of decommissioning the mines that have been carelessly operated, why can the DENR not make Lafayette do so at no obligation from the people or the government? Secretary Reyes does not merit confirmation for his current position. We are strongly demands for his resignation. The country deserves more competent and strong-willed people to handle the DENR affairs." further added by Fr. Bagaoisan. ###

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