400 activists, farmers protest Philippine ethanol project

In the Philippines, about 400 activists and farmers marched in protest against the construction of a biofuels plant.  The protest centered around fears that the 15 year contracts for growing sugarcane would reduce farm owners to tenant farmers, and that farmers would not get their lands back at the end of the 15 year contract.  Another complaint was that while the rental fee would be P5,000/hectare a year, the farmers would be listed as lessors and required to pay property taxes.

Bayan-Isabela spokesperson, Gretchen Valdez reported stated that farmers situation on 846 hectares were in danger of being displaced.  The provincial government is in favor of the planted bioethanol facility.  Mayor Edgar Go stated, “These … are barren lands and the owners have voluntarily entered into a contract with the companies [involved in the project]. Some militant groups and losing candidates [in the recent barangay elections] have been leading the protest to air their personal interests and grievances.”  The Mayor also stated that most of the protestors were not residents of the town.

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