Press Release
November 10, 2011


Senator Edgardo J. Angara called on the Aquino administration to ensure that public investments in biofuels R&D actually lead to useful applications.

Angara, Chair of the Senate Committee on Science and Technology, spoke in response to claims from the Department of Energy (DOE) that the past administration wasted P1-B for its jatropha program, which was scrapped by the Philippine National Oil Co. - Alternative Fuels Corp. (PNOC-AFC) for not being commercially viable.

"Though negative, these revelations should not hinder our drive to find alternative sources of fuel," said Angara, also Chair of the Congressional Commission on Science, Technology and Engineering (COMSTE). "If anything, this means we are now better equipped to move forward in a smarter, more purposeful manner."

DOE Secretary Jose Rene Almendras said that pilot-testing should have been conducted before rolling out jatropha cultivation in "such a big quantity."

Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Mario Montejo echoed Almendras' statement, saying that according to proper scientific protocol in programs involving new technologies, the results of these tests should be thoroughly evaluated to prove viability.

In a previous statement, Almendras explained that the PNOC-AFC will still pursue the development of other sources of alternative fuels, such as algae.

"The only way for us to make sure our future R&D pursuits actually bear fruit is if all stakeholders involved--government, the academe and the private sector--collaborate in a focused and systematic manner," stressed Angara.

Angara noted that COMSTE has been pushing for the establishment of the Philippine Institute for Algae Research and Commercialization (PINARC), which will be an innovation cluster--a three-way partnership among government agencies, selected universities and industry leaders--in algal R&D.

The veteran lawmaker explained, "For sure, many forms of clustering have been attempted before. But by involving industry leaders in the operations of PINARC, we will ensure that projects actually result in commercially viable applications."

Once plenary budget deliberations resume, Angara will push for P20 million in initial funding for PINARC from the 2012 budget.

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