( A repost from CBCP News)
MANILA, July 14, 2009— The Catholic bishops’ hierarchy called on the government to stop the 600, 000-hectare biodiesel project of a foreign company in the Philippines.
Aside from being exploitative, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) said its negative effect is likely to strike a number of landless farmers and fisher folk.
It said that the size of land to be used in biodiesel production is more than one half of the entire land reform target of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP).
In a statement, the CBCP urged the government to “counter the secession” of the said public lands to Pacific Bio-Fields Holdings, Inc. for bio-fuel to be exported to Japan.
The collegial body of the bishops made the call yesterday after their two-day plenary assembly at the Pope Pius XII Catholic Center in Paco, Manila.
The biodiesel project is contained in a formal agreement between the Philippine government and the United Kingdom-based Japanese firm.
Pacific wants to put up coconut plantations in the Philippines for the production of biodiesel.
According to the deal, the Japanese company and its local partner in Manila will ship the biodiesel products to Japan for the consumption of the Japanese public.
The CBCP also called on the government to formulate an effective implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for CARP.
On June 1 and 4, the Senate and the House of Representatives respectively passed their versions of CARP with extension and reform (CARPer).
The bicameral committee then finally passed a consolidated version on June 9, which President Arroyo will sign into law on August 8 with retroactive enforcement from July 1.
“Legislation cannot bring about tangible and lasting benefits to the small farmers without an effective IRR with specific targets, demonstrating the government’s clear political will to see the law brought to fruition,” the bishop said.
They also appealed for the serious implementation of land acquisition and distribution (LAD) over large and contentious agricultural estates immediately after CARPer is signed into law. (Kate Laceda)
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