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Virador: Reyes’ appointment a declaration of war on the environment

A lawmaker belonging to the leftist Bayan Muna on Friday criticized newly appointed Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes for his alleged heartless stand on the environment and indigenous peoples in offering the country to unbridled foreign plunder of our mineral resources. Bayan Muna Rep. Joel Virador said: “In appointing Reyes to the environment portfolio, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has sent the signal to the public that she will push for large-scale, foreign mining operations in the country. This appointment is also a declaration of war on the environment, our indigenous peoples and national patrimony." Virador said that at the recently concluded 10th Indaba Mining Conference in Cape Town, South Africa, Reyes invited the world’s 350 leading mining companies to set up operations in the Philippines, offering them up to nine million hectares of what he described as untapped mineral-rich land. “What Reyes does not say is that the nine million hectares or 30 percent of the entire country that have large mineral deposits also have millions of inhabitants and fragile ecosystems that will be destroyed by foreign corporate large-scale mining. It is also a very anti-people for Reyes and the current administration to go for protection of foreign mining companies instead of protecting our national patrimony," Virador said. Reyes issued the ‘policy-invite’ to mining executives despite the opposition of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP), environment groups, people’s organizations and lawmakers investigating mining disasters and calling for the scrapping of the Mining Act of 1995 and cancellation of all pending applications for mining permits. The Bayan Muna congressman filed House Bill 3846 repealing the 1995 Mining Act as a “definitive first step to stop the far-reaching consequences of foreign exploitation of the nation’s natural resources." “Reyes and Malacaňang must know that foreign corporations in large-scale mining operations will never help the economy progress nor will they accede to our already porous justice system. The 1995 Mining Act will only bring a fleeting upsurge in a few indicators, unstable seasonal jobs and the massive degradation of the environment," Virador said. The opposition lawmaker also pushed for the development of “a nationalist, responsible and environmentally safe mining industry that should benefit our people and not foreign corporations." He said this should be the mining road map of a government that should take its lessons from the mining disasters such as those in Rapu-rapu island in Albay (2005) and Marinduque (1996). “We should start by repealing the Mining Act of 1995," Virador said.-GMANEWS.TV