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Kiko calls for probe on Jatropha bungle

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Chairman of the Senate Committee on Agricuture and Food Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan calls on the Department of Agriculture and concerned agencies to investigate the alleged mishandling of the P1 billion pesos alloted for jatropha production in the country.

"As it is, we are currently struggling to find funds that will help us become self-sufficient in producing food. The money we spend on projects should be handled with much care, recognizing that these are funds that should benefit the whole nation," Pangilinan says.

Jatropha is a tree whose seeds are used to produce oil that can be converted into biodiesel. Several countries have been experimenting with the process, but results are varied and inconclusive as far as commercial viability is concerned.

The Department of Energy recently announced that the government lost P1 billion as government-owned PNOC Alternative Fuel Corporation abandoned the jatropha program because it is not commercially viable. The amount was released in 2009 by then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

"We cannot afford to be so careless with money, especially with funds that should have been used to support food self-sufficiency programs and programs that aim to improve the incomes of our farmers and agricultural workers. There should have been considerable studies and small-scale feasibility studies before jumping on the hype of jatropha. We need to investigate and expose the errors made in this botched project that cost our countrymen P1 billion, with the end in view that such errors will not be made again. Those who committed the blunder should explain themselves to our countrymen, especially to the millions of Filipinos who continue to experience hunger."




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