PCFS Steps Up Efforts to Stop Intensified Land Grabbing for Agrofuel Development in Isabela, Philippines

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Aug 22, 2011

 

The Brussels-based environmental watchdog, CDM Watch, met with the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) to examine the Itochu Corporation’s efforts to generate cash for their biofuel project in the northern Philippine municipality of San Mariano, Isabela through the carbon credit scheme of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

CDM Watch representatives discussed the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project cycle and approval process with PCFS, and affirmed the obligation of the consortium of project developers (Itochu Corporation, JCC Group and Ecofuel Land Holdings) to hold a stakeholder consultation with all affected communities – as well as conduct a full project environmental impact assessment - prior to the filing of the project with the Philippines CDM Designated National Authority (DNA) at the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR). CDM Watch also alerted PCFS to the required thirty day public comment timeframe within the CDM process. According to the UNFCCC website, Itochu registered an application for recognition of the San Mariano project as a Clean Development Mechanism (for prior consideration) in April 2011. Though CDM Watch representatives reminded PCFS that intercepting the CDM process is not easy, they will be helping to raise questions about the project to government officials and the CDM Executive Board.

 

 

Upon analysis, it appears that the Isabela biofuel project was already set to be launched – with or without carbon credit funds. The very basis of the claim by Itochu Corporation may accordingly be called into question. Furthermore, Itochu’s claim that carbon will be successfully sequestered by this bio-ethanol project has been exposed as misleading by the International Fact Finding Mission launched in June 2011 by PCFS, IBON International, the Asian Peasant Coalition, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas and Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela. To make way for monocrop plantations of sugar cane, thousands of hectares of local semi-forested lands and small-scale low carbon emitting farms will be destroyed, leading to the capacity of the area to act as a carbon sink to be rendered null.

 

PCFS expresses full support for the affected subsistence farmers and Agta indigenous people in the San Mariano community on this matter, as they continue to await an invitation by ITOCHU for a genuine stakeholder consultation as required by the UNFCCC process as well as by national and international law. The IFFM organizers will also be seeking further clarification about the project through requesting a direct meeting with the Philippine DNA at DENR. Simultaneously, popular mobilizations to halt further destruction of prime agriculture land in San Mariano for conversion into sugar cane plantations, along with public consciousness-raising activities will be continued by affected peasants, Agta people and allied civil society organizations. Their efforts have been boosted by the online petition campaign which was successful in applying immediate pressure to the Japanese and Filipino consortium of companies involved in the project, elected government officials and responsible government agencies to seriously take account of the livelihood concerns of the subsistence farming communities and Agta indigenous people of San Mariano. Seven hundred and fifty people signed the petition from sixty two countries, representing 275 organizations.

 

The People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty, IBON International, the Asian Peasant Coalition, Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas, Danggayan Dagiti Mannalon ti Isabela and all seven hundred and fifty signatories of the petition continue to await an adequate response and action from implicated authorities and personnel.

 

For more information please contact: secretariat at foodsov.org ; apcsecretariat at asianpeasant.org; troberts at ibon.org