‘Silent killer’ at Tamarind Road
(The Philippine Star) - January 27, 2015 - 12:00am

The legal battle involving the Napocor/Transco transmission lines located along Tamarind Road in Dasmariñas Village, Makati continues despite a much earlier Supreme Court ruling upholding the petition of Dasma residents led by lawyer Eddie Hernandez to have the overhead cables removed because they are believed to cause cancer and other fatal illnesses.

In 1996, Napocor started constructing steel poles for its 230-kilovolt Sucat-Araneta Balintawak Power Transmission project that traversed Tamarind Road in Dasmariñas Village, causing residents to protest because there was no prior consultation as required by law, aggravated by discovery of scientific studies that said electromagnetic fields (EMF) created by high voltage power lines could cause various kinds of cancers, leukemia and miscarriage.

In its ruling, the SC noted that while the issue of whether the said transmission lines were safe or not was evidentiary in nature, they also took into consideration the possibility of health risks from exposure to EMF as within the realm of a scientific scale of probability. While the Court did not wish to undermine the purpose of the Napocor project which was aimed at the common good of the people, the Court also recognized that the primordial concern should be the far-reaching irreversible effects to human safety rather than the economic benefits presumed by respondent (Napocor), the ruling said.

In 2008, foreign businessmen proposed a solution through the gradual removal of the power lines with a lead-time of at least two years, but to this day, the power lines are still dangerously close within 10 meters of Tamarind Road in Dasmariñas Village, prompting the 84-year-old lawyer – who lost two of his children to cancer – to elevate his fight through the internet by coming up with a 20-minute interview titled “Silent Killer on Tamarind Road: Atty. Hernandez’s Fight for Justice” regarding the issue, and which has since been uploaded on YouTube.

PNP massacre: Lack of intel

The bloody encounter involving members of the PNP Special Action Force (SAF) versus elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) in Maguindanao last Sunday will definitely set back the peace process in Mindanao. Reports say that as many as 36 PNP men were killed in the “dusk to dawn” firefight in Mamasapano, with the total number of casualties placed at 50, including MILF fighters and civilians caught in the crossfire.

The government forces were sent to serve a warrant of arrest for Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir alias Marwan – Southeast Asia’s most wanted terrorist who has a $5-million bounty on his head and is on the FBI’s most wanted terror list. Marwan is an expert bomb maker who is believed to be behind the recent bombings in Mindanao. Reports claim that Marwan was killed in the encounter, but this has yet to be confirmed especially since he was also reported killed during a military operation in Jolo in 2012 – but as it turned out, the Malaysian bomber was able to escape and has since been working with the BIFF.

Sources blamed the “lack of sufficient intelligence information” on the part of the PNP as the reason for the bloody encounter which they described as “a massacre” – with the bodies of the elite SAF members mutilated. According to the same source, the PNP men were unfamiliar with the area and may have possibly mistaken the residence of an MILF commander as the hideout of the terrorists. The elite SAF team also brought limited ammunition and firepower, and lack of coordination/communication with the Philippine Army prevented the elements of the 6th Infantry Division (who were carrying armored personnel carriers) from engaging for fear of hitting civilians and the PNP team.

But a more disturbing report, however, alleges that a high-ranking SAF official reportedly ordered the crack team to serve the warrant of arrest, despite the men’s lack of familiarity with the territory, because of the $5-million reward money, because he would get the lion’s share if the mission proved to be successful. The men also reportedly did not have the requisite combat experience for the jungle, the source claimed.

The Sunday bloodbath has resulted in the indefinite suspension of the Senate hearings on the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) by Sen. Bongbong Marcos, chair of the Senate Committee on Local Government, who said he could not in conscience allow the hearings to be continued in light of the situation. The senator condemned the extreme violence of the encounter between the government troops and MILF/BIFF – and this is something that should be investigated by the Senate to determine what really happened. Many also want to know why the BIFF (a splinter group from the MILF that is also known to oppose the ongoing peace process in Mindanao) seems to have “teamed up” with the MILF in Sunday’s encounter.

Not surprisingly, members of the PNP are mourning the death of their comrades, with many expressing shock at what happened. However, anger is also simmering especially at the statements coming from MILF officials who said the PNP elite team should have asked permission first to enter an “MILF-influenced area.”

The men were there to execute the task that government ordered, but they were executed because the MILF thinks they are the government, a PNP official who did not wish to be identified said, adding that they are now at a loss as to  what to do with the poor widows and orphans of the slain men. “How do we explain to their families what happened?” the PNP official lamented.

What happened in Maguindanao is definitely a new low considering that the PNP is just coming from a “high” due to the successful visit of Pope Francis – sending a pall of gloom at the PNP 24th Founding Anniversary celebration yesterday. 

***

Email: spybits08@gmail.com

BANGSAMORO BASIC LAW BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS DASMARI MARWAN MILF MINDANAO NAPOCOR PNP TAMARIND ROAD
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