Environmental Bureau Blocks Bioethanol Plant Project Special

Posted Feb 8, 2010 by Antonio Figueroa
MANILA – The Environmental Management Bureau (EMB), an agency under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, has blocked the construction of a bioethanol plant in two hinterland areas of Cagayan de Oro City, in Southern Philippines.
EMB turned down the application of Alcantara and Sons Consolidated Resources, Inc. (Alsons), a publicly-listed company, to be issue an environmental compliance certificate (ECC) for its P2.1 billion (US$45 million) initiative.
Carl Cesar Rebuta, team leader of the non-government organization (NGO), the Legal Rights and Natural Resources Center-Kasama sa Kalikasan/Friends of the Earth (LRC-KsK/FoE), called the government move a victory against corporations aggressively focused merely on earning profits.
“Biofuel production is not only detrimental to the environment,” Rebuta said, “but more importantly also it threatens food security and rural livelihood.”
The project, if approved, would have meant the cultivation of at least 10,000 hectares of cassava plantation to support the plant’s daily requirement, which is to produce 100,000 liters of 99.5% pure ethanol every day, the daily rated output of the proposed plant.
“Converting 10,000 hectares of rich productive land into cassava plantations,” Rebuta said, “will mean [competing with] food security, not only of the city, but of the [entire] region.”
To support the non-issuance of an ECC to Alsons, the House Committee on Ecology also recommended the passage of House Bill 6705, an act identifying, delineating and declaring the watershed areas of the city as “protected landscape and natural monument under Republic Act 7586.”
Interestingly, the corporate misfortunes took place despite earlier efforts of the Cagayan de Oro City Council hastily reclassifying into agri-industrial lands certain portions of barangays (barrios) Bayanga and Mambuaya to accommodate the project.
To avert any future effort at reviving the bioethanol plan, the Catholic Church, through its local clerics, is hatching plans to block the company from using political influence and backdoor negotiations in resurrecting the initiative.
In appreciation of the government decision, the influential Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) made sure the “good news” would be widely disseminated by posting the NGO’s statement on its website.