Jakarta. Riau Andalan Pulp and Paper, the operational unit of global industry leader Asia Pacific Resources International, has denied an accusation by the Indonesian government that it is using legal action to avoid complying with a new peatland protection regulation.
Andi Ryza, a legal representative for RAPP, emphasized that a plea the company submitted to the State Administrative Court (PTUN) last month was not aimed at avoiding its obligation to preserve peatlands in its concession areas.
He explained that the legal action was aimed at reviving the company's 2010-2019 work plan, which the government invalidated.
"We must highlight that RAPP's legal submission was to revive its current [10-year] work plan and not to avoid its obligations," Andi told reporters in Jakarta on Wednesday (13/12).
He also denied the ministry's accusation that RAPP is resisting the government.
"It is unfortunate that the government creates such a discourse by saying that we are against it," Andi said. He added that the ministry should be able to differentiate between the words "pleading" and "suing" in a legal context.
However, in a press statement the Ministry of Environment and Forestry published on its official website on Monday, it accused RAPP of trying to avoid its obligation to protect peatland.
"The new regulation on peatland protection does not only apply to RAPP, but to all concession holders. Furthermore, it is recorded that RAPP had experienced forest and land fires in its concession areas during 2015-16. As a result, we will not tolerate any efforts by RAPP to avoid its obligations," Bambang Hendroyono, the ministry's secretary general, said in the statement.
However, Andi reiterated that RAPP submitted its plea to the court only to seek legal recognition of the fact that the ministry issued a reprimand letter revoking the company's work plan. The court has yet to rule on the matter.
RAPP claims that its work plan was revoked after the ministry failed to respond to the company's letter of objection, sent on Oct. 18 and within the 10 days required by the Law on Good Governance.
He stressed that RAPP can only revise its work plan when the company's license expires, in accordance with one of the articles in Government Regulation No. 71 of 2014 on the protection and management of peat ecosystems.
"It is unfair to the company if it has to revise its work plan before the termination of the current work plan," he said.