Friday, December 10, 2004

NR1206:GMA should put meat into her words

Mula sa Tanggapan ni Anakpawis Rep. Crispin B. Beltran
News Release December 6 , 2004
House of Representatives, South Wing Rm 602
931-6615 Ina Alleco R. Silverio, chief of staff
Celphone number 09213907362

PGMA should put meat in her words and cancel all logging permits, impose a
total log ban, and order the High Court to declare FTAAs illegal - Rep.

Anakpawis Representative Crispin Beltran today seconded the challenge made by
environmental groups that Pres. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo immediately cancel the
permits of big logging companies in Aurora and Quezon following the devastating
floods and landslides that came as a result of the denudation of forests.
"Otherwise, Pres. Arroyo is only issuing empty platitudes and useless
threats. These firms shouldn't just be slapped on the wrist - all their
chainsaws and logging trucks should be taken away from them," he said.

Among the logging firms identified are Pacific Timber Export Corp, Agro-Forest
Development Corp., Inter-Pacific Forest Resources Corp, Industries Development
Corp., RCC Timber Co., San Roque Sawmill Corp, Benson Realty Development Corp,
Toplite Lumber Corp., and Green Circle Properties and Resources Inc.

Beltran said that Pres. Arroyo should be decisive and cancel the timber license
agreements, integrated forest management agreements (IFMAS) or special private
land timber licenses with the Department of Environmental and Natural

"It's not enough that the president makes a call against illegal logging. She
should put more meat in her words and take concrete action. Illegal logging
should be criminalized and penalized, but logging as a whole should be banned
outright. Loggers in the country have a record of being abusive - exploiting
their permits to the hilt, and the results have been devastating. Pres. Arroyo
should immediately cancel all logging permits, bar none. It will take for a
minimum of one decade for the country's forest to recover, and the emotional
and physiological scars of the survivors and the families of the victims will
take longer to heal. The deaths of our fellow Filipinos should not be in vain -
their deaths are a testament to the evils of rampant logging," he said.

In the meantime, Beltran expressed vehement condemnation of the Supreme Court's
reversal of its earlier ruling that the Financial and/or Technical Assistance
Agreement (FTAA) provision of the Philippine Mining Act of 1995 or RA 7942 is

Beltran said that the High Court's decision will contribute further to the
ecological and environmental disaster in the country, and worse, it worsens the
dangers faced by indigenous peoples andvcommunities already severely affected by
open pit mining and logging operations.

"Apart from canceling the logging permits, Pres. Arroyo should push the High
Court to reverse its ruling. Even as speculations are rife that malacannag and
foreign investors have all but pointed gun to the SC justices' head to reverse
the ruling, given Pres. Arroyo's recent statements that she will do all to
prevent yet another devastating flashflood, she should order the SC to once
declare FTAAs illegal and unconstitutional."

Beltran said that allowing the entry of wholly foreign-owned corporations in
the exploitation of our mineral resources would only aggravate the worsening
environmental situation in the country.

Only last January 27, the high tribunal ruled that FTAAs under the Mining Act
are unlawful. This would have had prevented a wholly-owned foreign company to
utilize any mineral resources within a contract area. The government has
targeted by foreign investors in the]revitalization of the mining industry to
augment its fiscal crisis.

"There has been no definitive or acceptable explanation as to why the High
Tribunal reversed its own decision. It would not be overboard to say, however,
that the Sc has succumbed to pressures from Malacanang and foreign investors.
In the wake of the devastation that left thousands homeless and hundreds dead,
The SC should once more alter its decision and return to its original
judgment on the FTAAs. The SC should also declare the entire Mining Act of 1995
as unconstitutional. Anakpawis is pushing for the scrapping of the said law,"
he said. "The environmental and man-made disasters that have hit the country
in recent years are direct results of the implementation of the law," he


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