Press Release
September 12, 2008


Senator Mar Roxas says the volatility of oil prices dictates the use of more ethanol in fuel production, as he called on the government to implement a crash program to boost sugarcane production for the purpose.

"Now that the price of oil is temporarily abating, the government must seize the opportunity to boost the search for alternative fuels and wean off the country from its dependence on imported petroleum," said Roxas, who is now at Negros Occidental, known as the "sugarbowl" of the Philippines, as it produces more than half of the country's supply of sugar, which is the source of ethanol.

"The Philippines remains prone to severe oil shocks and we should not sit idly by, dreadfully anticipating another round of price increases. We have 370,000 hectares in the country that can be tapped for expansion or conversion into sugarcane plantations," he said, noting that a National Biofuel Board is in charge of overseeing implementation of RA 9367, the Biofuels Law, as well as promotion of alternative sources of fuel.

"As co-author of the Biofuels Law, I saw the need to find alternative sources of fuel, particularly ethanol. Sugarcane has two primary purposes - as food and fuel. We encourage the private sector's expansion of our country's present sugarcane plantations, so that we can more than meet the present demand for both food and fuel," he added.

The law mandates a 5% ethanol blend in gasoline by 2009, two years after its effectivity. By 2012, five years after effectivity, a 10% blend will be required. The SRA says that about 16% of the 389,000 hectares of sugarcane plantation nationwide is needed to produce the 269 million liters of ethanol to meet the 5% requirement next year. In 2012, 38% of the total sugarcane plantation area nationwide will be needed to produce the 624 million liters of ethanol to meet the 10% requirement.

"Our companies are required to meet a minimum ethanol mix in gasoline over the next five years. But if we're able to increase sugarcane production and the ethanol supply, our energy companies will be able to increase their ethanol mix above the law's minimum requirement, and find it more cost-effective to do so," he said.

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