Press Release
September 23, 2007

Zubiri bats for Basilan and Sulu
energy projects in $190 Million US aid

A chunk of the $190 Million fund for the peace process may be channeled to renewable energy projects in Basilan and Sulu in anticipation of power shortages by 2009, Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri said in a letter to US Ambassador Kristie Kenney.

Zubiri favored that "Americans build them as they are way ahead in wind and solar energy technology. This also gives way for immediate transfer of their know-how directly to Filipino counterparts."

"We don't want Basilan and Sulu to be left behind again by rapid progress in the rest of Mindanao as in the past. We need not commit that mistake again where underdevelopment and poverty bred rebels and now terrorists of al-Qaeda linked Abu Sayaf Group and Jemaah Islamiyah," Zubiri explained.

"A lot of ambitious agricultural and industrial development plans may not be realized if we don't act now to provide stable energy especially in the most strife-torn area."

He explained that crops, fisheries and marine products from Basilan and Sulu "have an edge as they are harvested from clean environments that can be maintained with non-polluting renewable energy."

Mindanao's demand for energy is expected to outgrow supply as they currently produce most of the top ten Philippine agricultural exports that saw big growth this year. Among them tuna exports which grew by 42 %, dessicated coconut by 15%, copra by 44%, seaweeds and carageenan by 68%.

Processing of corn, cassava, coffee, rubber, native bananas and abaca traditionally exported as raw materials will require stable supply of electricity and fuel, Zubiri stressed.

He wrote Ambassador Kristie A. Kenney requesting the United States aid for the peace process to incorporate wind and solar projects in Basilan and Sulu. He said wind and solar power projects that are stand-alone are viable and "the best choice especially in remote areas as they don't require costly transmission lines for connection to power plants in the mainland."

Basilan and Sulu have great potential energy from ocean thermal currents in Omosmarata, Basilan and ocean tidal waves in the Basilan Strait. The whole Autonomous Region of Moslem Mindanao (ARMM) has potential generation of 0.36 MW from micro-hydro, 84.87 MW from coconut residue and 4.77 MW from rice residue.

"The fact that this is greater than the $150-Million package for Palestinians announced by President Bush is a sign that high-impact results are being anticipated by the American people."

The Mindanao aid package is included of the $522.4 million new Strategic Framework for U.S. Foreign Assistance announced by the US Department of State in its Fiscal year 2008 Congressional Budget Justification request in September 20.

The $190-Million grant will be implemented over five years by the US Agency for International Development and the Mindanao Economic Development Council. Bulk of the fund will be allocated for the ARMM composed of Basilan, Sulu, Maguindanao, Tawi-tawi, Lanao del Sur and Shariff Kabunsuan. The budget will increase access to basic education and provide livelihood skills for youth in areas of Mindanao most affected by poverty and conflict.

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