By INA ALLECO R. SILVERIO
MANILA — Community residents in Bohol recently petitioned the local government to dismantle 23 bioethanol farms previously cultivated in 23 coastal towns of the province.
Led by the fisherfolk alliance Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya), residents last Tuesday urged Bohol Governor Edgar Chatto to take final and decisive action against the farms, saying that the bioethanol project was not in the interest of the Boholanos.
For its part, the local government has suspended operations of the ethanol farms because of the protests launched by small fisherfolk and other environmental groups. Pamalakaya, however said, Governor Chatto should order the removal of the seaweed farms.
According to the Pamalakaya chapter in Bohol the Bol-Anong Kahugpongan sa mga Kabus nga Nangisda ug Nanagat (Bokkana), prior to the shelving of the $ 2.9 million bioethanol project, the Korean bio ethanol company had already cultivated no less than 3,700 hectares for seaweed farming in 23 coastal towns of the island province.
Another 2,000 hectares of the bioethanol farms are found in the coastal area of Bien Unido and 739 hectares off the waters of Talibon.
Seaweed drying on the platform.(Photos courtesy of PBSB / bulatlat.com)
Pamalakaya national chairman Fernando Hicap said Gov. Chatto and the 23 mayors of Bohol who signed the bio ethanol pact with Korea should rescind the contract and order the urgent and unconditional dismantling of seaweed farms.
“The governor and the 23 mayors should now proceed with the scrapping of the project. It’s not enough that the operations are suspended. Residents want the farms to be dismantled. Turning Bohol Island into a Republic of Seaweed and Bioethanol is not in the interest of the Boholano people,” said Hicap.
Residents Not Consulted
Biolsystems Co. Ltd., a Seoul-based company, through its sister Algahol company, developed a marine farm in Talibon town, which aimed to put up a US$150-million facility for bio-ethanol extraction, biomass power generation and organic fertilizer production and the US$2.9 million algae bio-ethanol research center funded as a grant by the Korean government.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed on July 1009 by then Gov. and now Rep. Erico Aumentado representing the provincial government and Gyungsoo Kim, president of the Biolsystems Co. Ltd of the Republic of Korea. Some 28 municipal mayors of the 30 coastal towns also signed the document. The mayors of Loon and Tagbilaran City did not sign the agreement. The term contract was for a period of 50 years with a planned extension of 25 years. The MOU further stated that security around the aquaculture and factory areas will be provided by the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines.