Press Release
June 13, 2006


Senator Edgardo J. Angara yesterday declared that the decision of the Department of Environment and natural Resources upholding the continuation of mining operations in Rapu-Rapu is a positive signal that the government is serious in pursuing sound economic development in the Philippines.

The sober decision of DENR Secretary Angelo Reyes to allow Lafayette Philippines to continue mining in Rapu-Rapu, consistent with its mining contract under the existing laws of the Philippines, underlined as the Philippine governments determination not to be swayed by emotion and rumors in its efforts to advance the economic interests of the nation, said Angara.

The Senator noted that of the $.8 billion in foreign direct investments listed by the Board of investments, $140 million are invested in mining operations. These investments generate jobs for millions of Filipinos, provide income for their families to pay for food and other necessities, and also encourage allied economic activities in the area where the mines are located, said Angara.

Angara declared that the Philippines has huge mineral resources, like gold, silver and ore, that lie unutilized, but could be developed for the economic well-being of present and future generations. Billions of pesos in income and taxes could be realized from these resources, which could be invested in infrastructure, education and health, and thus lift our people from poverty, declared Angara.

The Senator praised the Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission for its zealousness in conducting the study on the so-called Rapu-Rapu spill that reported caused chemical pollution of Sorsogon bay, killing big numbers of fishes. However, he also noted, that according to the DENR findings, Lafayette has already taken corrective measures and should be allowed to conduct a test run to show that it can continue operating the mine without further damage to the environment.

Angara also noted that even big numbers of residents of Sorsogon and Rapu-Rapu have appealed to the government to allow Lafayette to resume mining operations to enable it to reemploy hundreds of locals who had been dismissed due to the temporary shutdown of the operations.

Angara also said that Lafayette has expressed its commitment to take all necessary precautions to prevent any accidental spill of chemicals into the waters off Rapu-Rapu, DENR has also established wardens and observers along the coast to see to it that this does not happen.

Alls well that ends well, said Angara. The people of Rapu-Rapu, Albay and Sorsogon are happy that they are provided with more employment opportunities, while the fishermen and farmers are also happy that they will be protected in their traditional livelihood activities of fishing and farming from any mining backlash pollution.

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