Fr. Felino Bugauisan, assistant parish priest of Rapu-Rapu and chair of Sagip-Isla (Save the island), a multi-sectoral organization opposed to mining operations in the island off Legazpi City in Albay, threatened to file charges against LGU officials who allegedly accepted P100,000 in exchange for their signature to the MoA with Lafayette Philippines, Inc
BY AUBREY MAKILAN
The sole priest in Rapu-Rapu island, Albay (449 kms. south of Manila) threatened to file charges against local government officials who signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) with Lafayette Philippines, Inc.
During his May 25 homily at Sta. Florentina Parish in Rapu-Rapu, assistant parish priest Fr. Felino Bugauisan announced that Sagip-Isla (Save the Island) will file criminal and administrative charges against local officials who would be found guilty of allegedly accepting P100,000 ($ 1,894.65 at $1 = P 52.78) in exchange for their signature to the MoA with Lafayette Philippines. Bugauisan is the consultant of Sagip-Isla, a multi-sectoral organization committed to oppose the operations of the mining company Lafayette Philippines, Inc. and other mining activities on the island.
Bugauisan added that municipal officials surprisingly now favored the mining company.
The municipal council asked the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) to allow the Australian mining firm to stay and extract the island’s mineral resources.
In fact, the municipal council passed a resolution on May 8, signed by eight of its 10 members. It was submitted by Councilor Marino Barranda Jr. to Environment Secretary Angelo T. Reyes on March 23. Barranda said the municipal government changed its stand on the mining project after dialogues with new Lafayette officials last month.
In an interview with Bulatlat, Bugauisan said that after his announcement, an aide of Mayor Dick Galicia approached him and denied that the mayor signed the MoA.
“Maski bigyan ako ng P1 million ($18,946.57), hindi ko ipagbibili ang isla,” Bugauisan said, “Masaya ako kung maipapakulong ko sila (mga tiwali).” (Even if they offered me P 1 million, I would not sell the island. I would be happy to have all corrupt officials imprisoned.)
The Rapu-Rapu Fact Finding Commission (RRFFC), formed by President Arroyo, recommended the cancellation of the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) of Lafayette, a moratorium on mining in Rapu-Rapu, and a review of the Mining Act of 1995, which allows foreign companies to fully own and control mining projects in the country.
“Pero inilalako pa rin ni DENR secretary Angelo Reyes ang bansa sa labas,” said Bayan Muna (People First) Party-list Representative Joel Virador in a forum on the RRFFC report on May 26 in Quezon City.
Dr. Aloysius Baes, RRFFC commissioner, revealed that even the DENR’s November order for Lafayette to stop discharging mining wastes has not been followed. The order was precipitated by two mine spills that occurred in October.
Baes said the commission learned that as late as February, the mining company has been discharging its wastes.
“This alone is enough to call for ECC cancellation,” he said. “Palasak talaga ang kasinungalingan nito, huli mo na ayaw pang umamin,” (They keep on lying. There were already caught red-handed and still they refused to admit it.) said Baes.