PGMA visits biggest PNOC-AFC jatropha nursery
Manila (28 July) -- On the eve of her 8th State-of-the-Nation Address (SONA), President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo inspected yesterday morning the Jatropha Mega Nursery and Plantation here, drawing attention to the priority her administration is giving to the propagation of jatropha as an alternative fuel source.
It was in this headquarters of the 7th Infantry Division of the Philippine Army (PA) on June 3, 2006 that the President endorsed jatropha (tuba-tuba) as a biofuel alternative to fossil fuel.
The nursery here is touted to be the biggest among the jatropha nurseries set up by the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC) in military camps all over the country.
In her SONA last year, the President had recommended jatropha production not only as cleaner-fuel alternative to fossil-based or crude oil but, more importantly, as an energy source to lessen the country's dependence on imported crude oil.
The President, who was accompanied here by Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro, arrived at the five-hectare jatropha mega nursery plantation of the PNOC's Alternative Fuels Corporation (AFC) shortly before noon.
The nursery is a PNOC subsidiary established to spearhead the accelerated propagation, utilization and commercialization of alternative fuels in the country.
On hand to welcome the President were Science and Technology Secretary Estrella Alabastro, PNOC-AFC Chairman Renato Velasco, PNOC president and CEO Peter Abaya, and 7th ID commanding general Ralph Villanueva.
Following her inspection of the jatropha seedlings, the President was briefed by Velasco on the status of jatropha nursery production inside the camp, where most of the jatropha plants grown in the nursery research and demonstration plantation are now six to 10 months old.
Velasco informed the President that about 250 workers from three barangays (Dona Josefa in Palayan City, Bago in General Tinio, and Barrio Militar in Palayan City) have been hired by the PNOC to work in the five-hectare jatropha nursery plantation.
With the signing of Republic Act (RA) 9367 or the Biofuels Act of 2006, the President tasked the PNOC-AFC to spearhead biofuels propagation projects, starting with the planting of jatropha curcas, locally known as tuba-tuba, which is considered as the most viable feedstock for biodiesel production.
The alternative fuels program is one of the five key components of the President's energy-independence agenda which hopes to make the country 60- percent energy self-sufficient by 2010. (PIA-MMIO) [top]