House leader seeks review of Biofuels Act

MANILA -- A leader in the House of Representatives wants a review of the decade-old Biofuels Act of 2006 (Republic Act No. 9367) as biofuel development may compromise food security in the country.

Deputy Speaker Sharon Garin filed House Resolution No. 860, directing the House committee on energy to conduct an inquiry on the performance and impact assessment of the Biofuels Act of 2006 and development of alternative sources of biofuels.

Garin noted the emergent consensus from eminent scientists, scholars and international organizations that biofuel development is detrimental to food security.

"Although the intents and purposes of the Biofuels Program are commendable and essential, the government also has to put an equal premium on food security," said Garin.

During the hearing of the House committee on energy on the resolution, Dr. Shirley Agrupis, president of Mariano Marcos State University, said an estimated total land area of 35,000 hectares is needed to plant sugarcane to meet the ethanol supply requirement of 376 milliliters (mL).

Agrupis further said 80,000 hectares would be needed if the country were to meet the 20 percent blend in the next three years, thus resulting in a possible food versus fuel issue.

In balancing the interests of both food security and biofuel development, Garin said it is practical and judicious to conduct a thorough research and development on other indigenous biofuel sources.

Studies have surfaced that there are many other plants, shrubs, trees, agricultural wastes and residues that could be developed for biofuels expansion, apart from the biomass feedstock currently used in biofuel development, the lawmaker noted.

"Amidst issues raised against the Biofuels Program, it is high time to conduct a process evaluation of the Biofuels Act of 2006 to determine its performance and impact vis-a-vis the goals set forth in the law's declaration of policy," Garin added.

Source: Philippine News Agency