MANILA, August 19, 2004 (STAR) THE SOUTHERN BEAT By Rolly Espina - Some 1,000 participants opened yesterday the 51st annual convention of the Philippine Sugar Technologists’ Convention in Cebu City’s Waterfront Lahug. There was a determined effort to transcend the present oil price hikes plus the escalating cost of oil products and fertilizers.

Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña and German Garcia welcomed the delegates after an impressive opening program.

President Arroyo delivered the keynote address after Philsutech officials rearranged the schedules.

Philsutech officials, led by chairman Jose Antonio Muñoz and president Ricardo Lam Sectors, led the key executives at the convention opening in full force.

Javier Sagarbarria gaveled the start of the proceedings after the opening of exhibits at the Pacific Grand Ballroom.

If only to accent its importance, the delegates attended a single presentation on Ethanol — An Initiative of the Sugar Industry by Dr. Reynaldo Acda of UP-Los Baños.

Although the program still has to present the nitty-gritty of cost estimates, sugarmen were in a tizzy over ethanol that could reduce dependence on oil which hit the highest price level the other day.

A study by Renewable Fuel Association president Bob Dinnen said the production and use of ethanol, either as pure fuel or as an additive to gasoline, will create jobs, spur economic development and improve the income of farmers.

A 40-million gallon per annum plant will reportedly provide $142 million to the local economy during construction. It will also hire 41 full-time workers and provide 694 jobs for the community.

The plant will also increase the price of sugar, adding income of $19.6 million for the community and an average 13.3 percent return on investments over a 10-year period for an investment of $20,000 in an ethanol plant.

The Philsutech officials included Jose Eusebio Pernas, VP-administrative division; Paul Stephen Montenegro, agriculture; Democrito Oppus, engineering; Nico Florenza, sugar process and quality control; and Stephen de la Rama.

Directors are Raymond Gomez, Gaudencio Anlino, Rogelio Barrientos, Freddie Zayco and Zoilo Labiao. Haydee Villanueva is the corporate secretary and administrative officer, and Danilo Villanueva the treasurer.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap received assurances of support and cooperation from members of the Confederation of Sugar Producers (Confed) Negros-Panay Chapter led by Bernadito Trekol. Yap was briefed by the sugarmen on the gains achieved by the sugar industry and the problems confronting it.

Yap was accompanied by Sugar Administrator James Ledesma in his dialogue with the delegates to the Philsutech convention. 

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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