The Esperanza sailed into Rapu-Rapu Island accompanied by villagers from the
provinces of Sorsogon and Albay on board some 70 bancas (traditional outrigger
boats) bearing banners saying "Stop Lafayette" and "ABN-Amro, ANZ Stop Funding Marine Pollution".
ABN-Amro and ANZ are providing financial
backing for the mining operations.
"People rely on the
rich marine ecosystem for food and income and have already suffered from
continuous toxic contamination from the Lafayette
mine," said Beau Baconguis, Greenpeace Southeast Asia Toxics Campaigner
onboard the Esperanza. "The reopening of Lafayette mine has started the clock for
another disaster in our marine ecosystem. Lafayette
mine must be closed for good."
Late last year, Lafayette was ordered to
stop its mining operations after it twice released cyanide and other
contaminants into the environment, resulting in massive fish kills. Subsequent
investigations carried out by a
Presidential Fact-Finding Commission revealed that not only had Lafayette been
operating the mine beyond its capacity but that it had been doing so even
before it completed the construction of barriers designed to prevent
contamination reaching the sea.
The Philippine government
then granted the company a license for a 30-day test run of the mine. During
the test run, several toxic leaks occurred. Residents have since reported more
fish kills in the creeks leading out
from the mine into Albay
The pristine waters,
seagrass beds and mangroves of Albay
Gulf create an
exceptionally rich fishing ground for fishermen. Dolphins, sea turtles, egrets,
and purple herons are frequently sighted in these waters. Five of the seven
marine turtles in the world are found in the Albay Gulf,
while the eastern coast, including Rapu Rapu, is a migration path for whale
sharks. The Lafayette
mine threatens the survival of all of these species.
government's support for the mining operation makes it part of the problem and
not the solution," said Baconguis. "Rather than serve the interests
of mining corporations the government must act on behalf of the 30 million
Filipinos who rely on our rich marine environment for food and
The Esperanza's tour in the
is part of a 15-month global Defending Our Oceans expedition. Greenpeace's
other ships; the MY Rainbow Warrior and the MY Arctic Sunrise are also engaged
in challenging the threats to our oceans. The Rainbow warrior is confronting
tuna fleets destroying the last of the great fish in the Mediterranean and the
Arctic Sunrise is exposing the hidden face of illegal fishing of the North and Baltic Seas.
The Defending Our Oceans expedition aims to highlight the wonders of and the
environmental threats to the world's oceans and is campaigning for the
establishment of marine reserves covering 40 % of the world's oceans.
Other contacts: Beau Baconguis, Toxics Campaigner (onboard Esperanza), +4751407986 (sat phone), +639178036077
Arthur Jones Dionio, Media Officer (onboard Esperanza), +4751407986 (sat phone), +639215615305
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