THE PHILIPPINES has been largely dependent on the importation of fossil fuel from the Middle East. When the world supply falls short – and it will fall short in due time – our country will be in big trouble if we have no other alternatives available.
Wind power, as shown in Guimaras and the Ilocos region, offers bright prospects. Solar energy in sun-scorched Philippines is also a possibility.
By exploring other renewable sources of energy right now, the country will be protected in the future from the whims of oil-exporting countries and the ever-present threat of war in the Middle East. Doing so will also be economical because renewable energy sources are always cheaper in the long run and environmentally friendly, too, because these sources of energy do not harm the ecosystem.
There are alternative sources of energy that are already with the reach of Filipinos. We have natural gas deposits near Palawan which the national government ought not to sell to foreign interests. It may not be an inexhaustible supply but there may be enough of it to keep us going as we develop other renewable sources of energy.
Also, we have a law promoting the use of bio-fuels. It is a step in the right direction as ethanol from sugarcane can be blended with gasoline and diesel. And we have plenty of sugarcane. Take the experience of Brazil. They made their staple crop, corn, a renewable source of alcohol for specially developed locally manufactured car engines. Today, they do not depend as much on imported oil anymore.
Sadly, an oil industry group is pushing for the scrapping of the Biofuels Act of 2006. Obviously, this ant-biofuels group’s aim is self-centered. Congress should not be swayed into changing that mandate anytime soon. The alternative and indigenous fuels policy enshrined in the Biofuels Act remains sound and solid. In fact, this law enacted during the presidency of now House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo is just 13 years old and with economic potentials yet to be maximized for the benefit of the many provinces of our country dependent on the coconut industry. Removing the biofuels content requirement in this law would be disastrous to copra producers and the larger coconut industry because of the depressed price of copra locally and coconut products globally, particularly in the coconut oil segment.
Yes, with the fluctuating prices of oil in the world market, it is high time for the country to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel and focus on tapping renewable energy resources that are also environmentally friendly.