Zubiri’s statement on biofuels story

I HAVE never denied that I am a scion from a sugar producing family. That my great-grandfather was planting sugarcane in the fields of Kabankalan, Negros almost 90 years ago. But I abhor the maliciousness of the VERA report by suggesting that my family today would greatly benefit from the Biofuels Law. How could we when all our lands have been voluntarily, ( let me repeat, voluntarily) given to the CARP program and whatever land left to us allowed by the law to retain, we have leased to DOLE for banana production for the last 4 years. Definitely, before the law was approved on 2006 so there is no conflict of interests.

If the authors did any serious investigating and visited the area, they will see the obvious that its all planted to bananas and that the provincial assessor has not updated their records. My remaining 8 has. of land cannot be classified as a plantation but a modest farm. What saddens me most is that our family, who had complied with the CARP law since 1988 and supported its turnover to farmer beneficiaries, was one of the first to do so, and yet the story pictures our family as sugarbarons: It is a blatant lie. Instead of being congratulated for being the first to comply with the CARP Law, we are now being maligned by the VERA Article and those behind their agenda. Even the insinuation that my father has some control over Busco or Bukidnon Sugar-milling Company is completely false. All ties to that company have been severed since 1988. Since then, it has been owned by Filipino Chinese businessmen and whatever transaction they do either on sugar or ethanol is their business and we have nothing to do with it.

Let me put on record that there is no provision in the Biofuels Act that would violate or shortcut the CARP program. I wish that the authors of the story had read the law which will show nothing on land conversion and exemptions from CARP. On the contrary, it is the CARP beneficiaries tilling 3 has. of sugar land that will benefit from the higher value and pricing of their sugar crops for biofuels.

What frustrates me is that it seems we have become a nation of fault-finders. The issue here is fuel. Do we produce it? Negative. Are we ready to survive if oil imports stop? Negative. Do we have alternatives to that? Yes we do, but are we prepared to implement it?

Time and again I’ve said, if implemented properly biofuels will not compete with food since the feedstock to be used is sugarcane of which we have an oversupply, sending the excess production for export at super low prices. We have enough excess sugar to supply the 10% ethanol requirement of the law while jathropa can be planted to close to 4 milllion has. of cogonal mountain land that remain idle. Just drive from Cagayan De Oro to Davao and left and right of the highway will show you mountains that have nothing planted to them at all and these areas are not suitable for foodcrops because of the sloping characteristic of the land.

The worst part of all is that we have not even implemented the Biofuels program and we have an impending food crisis. A double whammy, we have no food nor fuel independence and yet we like to find fault on the solutions proposed to counter these problems. Well, if by next month gas prices will be at P50/liter and by next year it will reach P70/liter and you curse the high heavens, please don’t blame the government but the fault-finders.