Teves’ reaction to VERA Files story in Philippine Star

ON YOUR April 8th issue, the article titled “Ethical Lapses Mark Ok Bio Fuels Law” allegedly written by Jessica Hermosa and Johanna Sisante, my name was mentioned as one who own agricultural lands, which can or will provide feedstock for bio fuel production.

These writers, including “Vera files,” ought to undertake thorough study or investigation before writing said accusation.

While it is true, that I am one of the authors of said law, and that I own agricultural lands, the allegation that I am involved in any ethical lapses or of conflict of interest is wrong, as I am not converting my agricultural lands to feedstock for ethanol or bio fuel.

Poverty is predominantly wallowing in our country, which is basically caused by shortage of employment and unproductive land prevalent in upland rural communities.

The advent of global warming and other signs of environmental degradation that could cause another earth vulnerability plus the present prohibitive price of diesel crude oil lingering over US$100 per barrel, will make us decide to undertake and be part in going into Jatropha bio-fuel production.

I am directly into Jatropha propagation for bio diesel to “Improve the Economy and Ecology of our Country,” on lease logged over unproductive, non-arable hilly and mountainous public and private land. I am not competing with lands intended for food crops. The DENR personnel and the UP Los Baños School of Forestry professors who visited the area can attest to this.

Out of 15.9 million hectares of forestall/timberland “open forest” is 4.03 million hectares that maybe developed for Jatropha. In Negros Oriental our logged-over public land is 207,431 hectares while Tamlang Valley is only 24,110 hectares.

The 2007 CARP Land Distribution Accomplishment totaled 7.1 million hectares with private agricultural lands of 2,241,192 hectares.

To our dismay agricultural land production of these lands decreased and worst most of the 4.4 million CARP beneficiaries remain poor contrary to the intention and purpose of the CARP Law.

Improvement of the economy is feasible as planting and harvesting of Jatropha is done manually thus, labor intensive, while making non-productive land productive. A farmer/planter of Jatropha will earn a net income of P30,000.00 per hectare more or less, selling Jatropha seeds @ P5.00 to P6.00 per kilo. Jatropha will grow in any land area, bearing fruit after one (1) year, with maximum yield on and after the 4th year onward to the 30th year unlike coconut that will grow in high altitude area far from the seashore but will not bear fruits. Fossil oil is very expensive, that bunker fuel is now at P33.00 to P34.00 per liter – Jatropha raw oil is comparable to bunker oil thus can be used on stationary engines, ship engines and even heavy equipment making use of Jatropha raw oil at lower cost. 3.0 to 3.4 kilos of Jatropha seeds can produce one (1) liter of raw oil at a cost of twenty pesos (P20.00) per liter.

Bayawan City has been successful in converting raw Jatropha Oil into Diesel Fuel using the transesterification method. In February 2008, Bayawan City tested this fuel to power a Toyota Hi-Lux pick-up truck. The fume emitted from the vehicles exhaust proved to be clean and odorless, thus, is beneficial to the ecology of our country.