CBCP'S ANTI-MINING CRUSADE KINDLED DEBATE / ANGELO REYES TO DENR

MANILA
, February 6, 2006, (STAR) (AFP) An anti-mining crusade by Roman Catholic bishops has rekindled debate over how best to lift millions of Filipinos out of poverty by using the resources buried beneath their feet.

In issuing a rejection of the resources industry last month, the country's dominant religion called on the government to cancel all concessions and deny all applications, saying mining "destroys life" and causes "evil effects".

Few expect President Gloria Arroyo to make such an abrupt about-face but the comments by the politically influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines may chill the investment climate.

Obeying the edict "will essentially signal to all investors, local and foreign, not just in the mining industry, that making an investment in the Philippines is a bad one," warned Benjamin Philip Romualdez, head of the country's Chamber of Mines.

GMA moves Reyes to DENR, affirms Defensor as Palace chief of staff 02/04 2:59:35 PM

Malacañang Saturday announced the latest series of appointment in Presidnet Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo's Cabinet, moving Angelo Reyes to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

In a list read by Press Secretary Ignacio R. Bunye, he said that the President has appointed Reyes, head of the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) as the new DENR Secretary.

Reyes will be replacing former DENR chief Michael Defensor, who had been on floating status at the Palace until his new appointment came in.

Defensor, in turn, has been appointed as the new Presidential Chief of Staff.

Also appointed were Esperanza Cabral as the new Secretary of the Department of Social Welfare and Development and Edgardo Pamintuan as the chairman of the Subic Clark Area Development (SCAD).

Cabral, a cardiologist, used to be the campaign manager for Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago when the latter ran for president in 1992 and senator in 2001. She will replace Dinky Soliman, who resigned together with the "Hyatt 10" to protest Pres. Arroyo's presidency.

Pamintuan was a former Angeles City mayor before his appointment as presidential adviser for external affairs.

View from the Palace (For the week ending February 05, 2006)

The government supports a responsible mining policy that creates jobs, provides a safe workplace, is environmentally sound and is in accordance with international best practices. We do not have to choose between creating jobs, on the one hand, and a clean environment on the other. We must do both.

The Arroyo administration believes we must support responsible mining that includes care for the environment, a safe workplace, healthy local community development and good jobs at good wages. We will never eliminate poverty if we don't have good jobs. It is our moral responsibility to create jobs by working with responsible mining companies that comply with strict environmental standards and provide a safe workplace.

It is unfair to the poor who need jobs to give them a false choice. The poor should not have to chose between a job, on the one hand or a clean environment, on the other. It is our moral and patriotic responsibility to make sure the poor have both.

It is unfortunate that certain recent public statements only feed the negative stereotypes that mining is dangerous and antithetical to the protection of the environment and the welfare of our people. Chile’s development rode on the back of a strong but environment-friendly mining industry It is therefore imperative for all the stakeholders in the mining industry to embark on a sincere and frank dialogue as soon as possible.

Mineral prices are enjoying a 25 year high, which accounts for the keen interest in the local mining industry. We are thus thrust into a unique situation with global opportunities that may not be available to us again. Our hopes remain high, and all efforts are being made, towards achieving a vibrant and prosperous mining industry, which more than adequately addresses social, environmental, economic and political concerns,

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We received more than the usual number of daily text messages yesterday and most of them were related to the Wowowee anniversary stampede. I am reproducing one of them, from texter Patrick Rivera, which more or less conveyed the sentiments of the texters: Rivera said:

"We are disturbed and saddened by the senseless deaths of the scores of people killed and injured as a result of the chaos and unruly crowd at the Wowowee anniversary. The organizers should be taken to task for not putting better safeguards and crowd control measures in place, knowing how awaited the anniversary show was. At the same time, we call upon those who attend these types of gatherings to observe proper decorum and safety rules, to follow the rules of the organizers and always take care not to endanger themselves and others."

In the tragedy’s aftermath, an inter-agency fact finding task force, led by DILG, has subpoenaed officials of ABS-CBN, including the show’s producers and security officials in charge of the event. They were scheduled to appear at 1 p.m. today (Sunday) at the DILG office.

DILG Undersecretary Marius Corpus, chair of the fact-finding team, (which includes representatives of the local government of Pasig City, the Philippine National Police, NBI and the National Telecommunications Commission, among others), said the probe team will try to complete its investigation within the 72-hour deadline ordered by the President.

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Some unscrupulous people are spreading hoaxes via text/SMS and e-mail in an obvious attempt to embarrass the President. One such text message is from a person calling himself "Atty. Rex G. Santos" and using mobile phone number 09217174558. The message reads verbatim (grammatical errors and all): "Congrat's!! the Pres.GMA/Charity Foundation. Ur cell# is " 1 of lucky winner, last Feb. 2, 2006 had won P750,000) 2 Claim ur prize cal now! I'm Atty. Rex G. Santos" This is clearly a scam and the public should not fall for this. I am glad that a concerned citizen from Muntinlupa City brought this to my attention. "Atty. Rex. G. Santos", or whoever is responsible for this, your cellphone number has been forwarded to the National Telecommunications Commission for proper action.

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Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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