[PHOTO - Biofuel exhibit. President Aquino unveils the logo to signal the opening of the 1st Philippine International Bioenergy Conference exhibit of the National Biofuel Board One-Stop Shop at the Fiesta Pavilion, Manila Hotel.]

MANILA, JANUARY 15, 2012 (MALAYA) BY JOCELYN MONTEMAYOR - President Aquino yesterday projected that the biomass energy supply will increase from 39 megawatts of energy in 2010 to more than 300 megawatts by 2015 due to renewable sources which provide 39 percent of the country’s energy requirements.

In a speech at the 1st Philippine BioEnergy Conference at the Manila Hotel, Aquino expressed hope that the country would reach its target of tripling the current renewable energy capacity by 2030.

The renewable sources are hydropower, geothermal, solar, wind, and biomass.

"Our projections also indicate that, in achieving this goal (biomass sector’s increase), around 89,000 more jobs will be generated for Filipinos. These of course, have a multiplier effect, because citizens with sources of income become empowered consumers, who can stimulate local economies and create even more jobs," he said.

"The effects of advancing the biomass sector will also reach close to 577,000 farm families who can benefit, for example, by gaining additional income through the sale of agri-waste or forest residues that can be used in the development of biomass resources," he said.

Aquino asked major stakeholders in the energy sector to work hand-in-hand with the government to promote and implement the use of renewable energy.

"With more emphasis on renewable energy resources, we can even make our own small contribution to addressing the massive problem that is climate change," the President said.

Meanwhile Communications Secretary Ramon Carandang said the Palace does not see any looming oil crisis nor does the Department of Energy (DOE) foresee a sustained spike in fuel prices.

Carandang said the DOE, however, is drafting several contingency measures just to be prudent and prepared for any eventuality.

"Given the weakness in global markets, they (DOE) actually think oil will settle more or less where it is. So I would not be overly concerned about an oil crisis," Carandang said.

Speculations about an oil crisis rose after Iran warned it would close the Strait of Hormuz, the major waterway of oil exports from the Middle East, if the West imposes sanctions due to its suspected nuclear program.

At least, she didn’t say stupid BY WENDELL VIGILIA

SHE may be down but she’s not out.

Former president Gloria Arroyo, who is on hospital arrest at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center for charges of electoral sabotage, was still able to take pot shots at President Aquino who she said is trying to cover up a "vacuum of leadership" with a "vilification" campaign against her.

"I know that the President has to be a politician, like everybody else in our elected leadership, but what really matters is what kind of politics we espouse, not how much," said Arroyo in a nine-page paper titled "It’s the Economy, Student!"

Arroyo was Aquino’s economics professor at the University of the Philippines.

Arroyo’s paper was presented to the media at the Manila Hotel by Dr. Gonzalo Jurado, Arroyo’s former professor at the Ateneo de Manila University.

"The enemy to beat is ourselves: when we spread division rather than unity; when we put ego above country and sensationalism above rationality; when we make everyday politics replace long-term vision in our country’s hour of need," she said.

Arroyo said it is with "sadness" that she recognizes "the increasing vacuum of leadership, vision, energy and execution in managing our economic affairs."

She said the gains achieved by previous administrations, including hers, "are being squandered in an obsessive pursuit of political warfare meant to blacken the past and conceal the dark corners of the present dispensation."

"Rather than building on our nation’s achievements, this regime has extolled itself as the sole harbinger of all that is good. And the Filipino people are paying for this obsession -- in slumping growth, under-achieving government, escalating crime and conflict, and the excesses of a presidential clique that enjoys fancy cars and gun culture," she said.

Arroyo said that while the President has the right to pursue the kind of politics he espouses, he should not neglect his economic duties such as keeping prices of basic commodities down, creating more jobs, providing basic services, securing peace, and pursuing the high economic growth.

She said that when she left the presidency in June 2010, nearly nine out of 10 Filipinos had access to health insurance, more than 100,000 new classrooms had been built, and nine million jobs had been created. In contrast, she said economic growth in the 3rd quarter of 2011 was pegged at only 3.2 percent.

"No amount of black propaganda can erase these tangible improvements. Unfortunately, the present administration has chosen to turn the problem upside down, anchoring their entire development strategy on one simplistic slogan: "Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap. This slogan is a proposition that also tells us that the undeniable persistence of poverty to this day therefore means the continuation of corruption under this administration," Arroyo said.

"It’s so easy to claim achievements that have already been accomplished by others, and take credit for what is there when the one who did the work has gone. Just make sure she is forgotten, or, if remembered, vilified," she added.

Arroyo also lambasted Aquino for taking time to answer media questions on her love life which he once likened to "Coke Zero."

"Neither the President nor anyone else can truly expect to govern the next five years with nothing but a sorry mix of vilification, periodically recycled promises of action followed by lethargy, backed up by few results, if any, and presumptuously encouraging gossip about one’s love life in which no one can possibly be interested," Arroyo said, alluding to the President’s penchant of making comments about his love life in his public speeches.

Presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said Arroyo is sourgraping.

He said Arroyo’s supposed economic paper is more a political paper.

Ramon Carandang, head of the Presidential Communications Development and Strategic Planning Office, said the paper is a "press release masquerading as an economic thesis" that has no value to the Aquino government.

Lacierda said under the Aquino government, there has been an increase in the number of beneficiaries of the conditional cash transfer program, and more employment, while efforts to improve the justice system and curb corruption are ongoing.

He dismissed reports that Aquino got a B plus in economics.

"What’s the relevance in running the country efficiently, in running the country, in curbing corruption, in alleviating poverty?...Do you want someone who is an economics professor who ran this country? Who damaged the institutions? Do you prefer an economics professor who, instead of strengthening the institutions, caused severe damage to the institutions and whose credibility has sunk lower than President Marcos?" he said. – With Jocelyn Montemayor

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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