Press Release
March 11, 2006


Senate Minority Leader Aquilino Nene Q. Pimentel, Jr. (PDP-Laban) today called on both the Senate and House of Representatives to speed up the approval of the administration-certified bill that will grant government incentives to the development of substitute sources of energy such as ethanol and coco-diesel which are abundant in the country.

Pimentel expressed dismay that the approval of the priority bill, of which he is one of the principal authors, has been unduly delayed because of a strong lobby from the car and oil industries.

The proposal to use ethanol even only as mix for our transport fuel faces a strong lobby from the car industry. The industry feels that if we move from fossil fuel to ethanol, we would cause the car industry to suffer, he said.

He said there is also a need to retrofit the engines or retool the vehicles that will use ethanol mixed fuel instead of crude or refined oil products.

Pimentel said the lobby against the approval of the Alternative Energy Sources Bill is also coming from the oil industry because it anticipates market demand for oil and petroleum products will decline.

He decried that although the bill was filed on August 10, 2004, its approval remains uncertain despite the urgency of reducing the countrys dependence on imported oil especially in the light of soaring oil prices in the world market.

Saying that the car and oil industries will have to give way to the larger needs of the country, Pimentel said we need not shift from fossil fuel to ethanol in one fell blow.

He said the shift to ethanol fuel can be done incrementally as Brazil and Thailand are doing so that the car industry will have enough time to redo their vehicles to withstand the shift.

We can gradually impose a mix of diesel or gasoline and ethanol in ever increasing percentages in favor of the latter, Pimentel said. But the thing is that we must do it now. We cannot procrastinate. Otherwise, the longer we delay the shift from diesel or refined gasoline to ethanol, the bigger will be the cost to the country.

He said that the use of ethanol fuel, which is extracted from sugar cane, cassava or corn, will also help alleviate the air pollution problems that go with the use of diesel, gasoline and similar products.

Ethanol can be used as pure gasoline fuel substitute. It can also be used to blend with or displace gasoline in various proportions.

Pimentel said he is for producing ethanol principally as transport fuel additive.

My readings indicate that adding ethanol to gasoline enables machines and engines to burn the fuel more efficiently. And then our need for diesel or oil products would be reduced considerably depending, of course, on the volume of ethanol that is mixed with fossil fuel, he said.

The senator from Mindanao said the shift to ethanol is greatly advantageous to the country because it is sourced from major agricultural products sugar, cassava and corn which grow abundantly here.

In other words, we will not run out of the basic raw materials from which ethanol may be produced. It is a replaceable commodity as far as we are concerned, Pimentel said.

Statistics show that the country imports $3.8 billion or P200 billion worth of crude oil and petroleum products a year.

The transport users in the public and private sectors consume 28 percent of the countrys total fuel utilization. Pimentel said that share is equivalent to a tidy sum of P56 billion that could otherwise be saved or reduced significantly to meet the other pressing needs of the country.

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