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GMA looks into expanding jatropha plantation in military reservation

Tuesday, July 29, 2008 [ manilatimes.net ]

FORT RAMON MAGSAYSAY, Palayan City: President Arroyo ordered on Sunday the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Philippine National Oil Company (PNOC)—Alternative Fuel Corp. to expand the jatropha plantation within this vast military reservation.

Arroyo, after being briefed by PNOC and military officials on the project, set foot on the nursery of 1.5 million jatropha seedlings here.

The nursery, according to PNOC chair Renato Velasco measures five hectares while the actual plantation is 500 hectares.

Velasco said the area is now planted to one million jatropha plants, being attended by 250 workers who used to be jobless people of adjacent communities.

Velasco said that upon Arroyo’s instruction, the DND and the PNOC would soon come up with a new memorandum of agreement to cover 2,000 hectares more for jatropha, a plant variety found to be rich source of biofuels.

Sec. Estrella Alabastro of Science and Technology said the government is mandated by law to implement the mixing of five percent of biodiesel to diesel fuels and 10 percent of bio-ethanol to gasoline.

Alabastro said, “it is certainly” a help to cushion the impact of increasing prices of petroleum products in the world market.

Gov. Aurelio Umali, Rep. Cherry Umali of Third District, accompanied Arroyo, Major Gen. Ralph Villanueva who is commander of the Army’s Seventh Infantry Division that hosts the project, Army Chief Gen. Victor Ibrado and other ranking officials. --Armand M. Galang

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