By Myrna M. Velasco
The Department of Energy (DOE) is being prodded to convene the National Biofuels Board (NBB) so the government can firm up decision to increase the blend of coco methyl ester (CME) to either 4.0 or 5.0 percent as targeted before the end of the Duterte administration.
CME is currently the country’s preferred biodiesel because the main base of production for such alternative fuel is coconut, which is an abundant agri-business produce in the country.
Senator Juan Miguel Zubiri, the principal author of the Philippine Biofuels Act, has been leading the call on the energy department to already lay down decision on jacking up the biodiesel blend from currently at 2.0-percent by volume.
He said local production of CME could viably meet the requirements for a higher blend, and it is just a matter for DOE concretizing a policy decision on that.
“It’s time to convene the Biofuels Board…you have to study if we can go B3 in 2021 and B4 in 2022,” the lawmaker said.
Energy Undersecretary Donato D. Marcos said the last time the NBB was convened had been three months ago, purposively to “continuously study” the propounded increase in the biodiesel blend to fuel products.
Nevertheless, Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi has sounded off that it is not an easy judgment for them to instantaneously increase the blend because this could redound to P0.04 per liter increase in the cost of diesel if the CME mix by volume is doubled.
Zubiri argued that consumers are now used to the weekly adjustments in prices at the pumps – that at times could even spike as high as P1.00 to P2.00 per liter, hence, the P0.04 per liter cost climb for higher biodiesel blend may no longer ignite opposition especially if the government could fully explain that this will be for the benefit of the Filipino farmers.