Boo Chanco, Marcos devotees’ relentless redoubt

Joker P. Arroyo - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - It’s been 29 years after EDSA and Boo Chanco is still at it, defending Marcos’ record on energy. Thus, with tunnel vision, he has embarked on an insidious attempt to rewrite the history of Marcos’ failed energy program and the folly of BNPP.

Witness what he wrote, in bold letters, in his Star column of March 23, 2015.

“The worse part is that they dumped the nuclear plant. I can understand that political decision but you cannot discard 620 MW without putting up a replacement.”

Mr. Chanco presents the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP-1) as the centerpiece of his revisionist undertaking. Yet, Cory did not dismantle BNPP-1. She just didn’t resume work on the project after EDSA for two reasons, not political at all. First, the safety concerns and second, the breathtaking corruption that attended its financing.

Jake Almeda Lopez, twice detained by the military during martial law and who helped plan and execute the escape of Geny Lopez and Serge Osmena III settled in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where the Three-Mile Island Nuclear Plant was located. He saw first hand the unimaginable horror of a nuclear disaster.

Jake appealed to Senator Lorenzo M. Tañada to please do something about BNPP-1, which was under construction. The venerable old man humbled himself, saw President Marcos, who in turn created the Puno Commission “to investigate the safety concerns,” but not the “financial aspects” of the project.

Senators Tañada and Soc Rodrigo and myself appeared before the Puno Commission for the very laborious long drawn-out daily hearings for nearly three months involving a battery of experts on nuclear power and seismology, foreign and local.

The Puno Commission hearings, plus other intervening incidents that included the subsequent Supreme Court case, suspended work on BNPP-1 until it was overtaken by EDSA.

Two months after the Cory Administration was installed, the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in the Soviet Union took place in April 1986. It appears that up to now, Chanco is not bothered by the Three-Mile Island nuclear meltdown nor by Chernobyl. The Cory cabinet were.

Westinghouse and General Electric manufacture nuclear reactors. The country borrowed money to pay Westinghouse $1.1 billion for one 620-MW reactor. General Electric offered two for the same price. The project consisted of two nuclear plants, BNPP-1 and the other, BNPP-2, which was never started.

This provoked then Minister Vicente Paterno of Trade and Industry in the Marcos cabinet to wail “we got one reactor for the price of two!” Tañada branded the unfinished BNPP-1 as the monument to Marcos folly for being the biggest corruption of the dictatorship. After EDSA, I supported Ting Paterno’s appointment as Deputy Executive Secretary for Energy and his inclusion in Cory’s senatorial slate.

Chanco insists, “Paterno was frustrated enough at being ignored (sidelined by Joker, his gatekeeper) so he just decided to run for senator. I know because I worked directly under him and he constantly complained.”

I cannot imagine Ting Paterno being a chameleon, as Chanco libels him, now that he has passed away, nor Chanco being that close to Paterno to have been his confidante. After all, Chanco was among those who worked in the Marcos Ministry of Energy (as a lower middle management propagandist) who asked and was allowed after EDSA to remain in the new administration. It turns out he had always been an ardent disciple of Marcos programs and that explains his obscurant approach in revising history. He cites dead persons and unnamed people as his sources of information. His allegations, he passes on as fact.

Twenty nine years after EDSA, closet Marcos devotees have arisen to insist that their governance was much better than the present. No one can blame them for their unflinching devotion to Marcos. That is their choice. But they can be faulted when they try to revise the facts as it happened during that period. As to the rest of Chanco’s gross revisionism, I fall back once more on the Latin maxim, “falsus in umno, falsus in omnibus,” –  false in one, false in all.












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