Philippines: Remember Rapu-Rapu, Green Activists Tell Candidates

Apr. 23, 2007

MANILA — Militant environmental activists from Kalikasan Peoples Network for the Environment capped Earth Day 2007 today with a stern reminder that dangerous and large-scale commercial mining continues to damage the island of Rapu-Rapu in Albay and the surrounding waters of Sorsogon.

“This year’s celebration of Earth Day is marred by memories of the Rapu-Rapu mine spill and valid fears that another environmental tragedy is in the making, especially after the DENR allowed Lafayette’s full commercial mining operations to resume last February,” said Kalikasan National Coordinator Clemente Bautista, Jr.

“We exhort the candidates vying for public office in the upcoming elections, especially those running or hailing from the Bicol region, to support an urgent moratorium on mining operations in Rapu-Rapu,” Bautista said.

“Local, national, and international opposition to the Rapu-Rapu mine project is growing even after DENR Sec. Angelo Reyes issued a Permanent Lifting Order for Lafayette to operate last February. Large-scale and open-pit extractive operations such as the one that Lafayette is currently undertaking will only further degrade the small island’s fragile ecosystem, make its steep and unstable geologic structure only more vulnerable to landslides, affect its limited freshwater and groundwater sources, and contaminate existing flora and fauna and human life with toxic heavy metals,” Bautista said.

Bautista announced that there will be four protest activities worldwide tomorrow, April 23, 2007, in three countries mainly targetting offices of the ABN AMRO bank to demand their pull out and withdrawal of financial support for the Polymetallic Mining Project.

ABN AMRO, an international bank holding main office in the Netherlands, is one of the high-profile investors behind the Rapu-Rapu mine project along with ANZ of Australia, KFSX of South Korea and Standard Chartered Bank of the United Kingdom. Kalikasan and over 8000 environmentalists from 27 countries signed a petition last February calling on these banks to withdraw their investments and stop supporting Lafayette Philippines Inc. and its project.

The actions will be held in Makati and Legaspi City in the Philippines, Cheung Kong Centre in Honk Kong, and Amsterdam in the Netherlands. Details for the activities are as follows:

1. Mass Mobilization in Legazpi City, Albay headed by Sagip Isla, Sagip Kapwa and Umalpas Ka Bikol. They target to mobilize around 5,000 to 8,000 people.

2. Picket Action (10AM) at ABN AMRO Philippine Office. LKG Tower 6801 Ayala Avenue, Makati City Philippines

3. Picket Action at ABN AMRO Hongkong Office, Corporate and Institutional Banking ABN AMRO Bank N.V. 38/F, Cheung Kong Centre 2 Queens Road Central Hong Kong

4. Picket Action at ABN AMRO Head Office, ABN AMRO Bank N.V. Gustav Mahlerlaan 10 1082 PP Amsterdam The Netherlands

“These activities are part of the ongoing international campaign to pressure Lafayette’s bank financiers to stop their financing to the Australian-owned Lafayette Mining Inc.,” Bautista explained.

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