Going nuclear

SENTINEL - Ramon T. Tulfo - The Philippine Star

South Korean Ambassador Kim Inchul has offered his country’s help in reviving the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

Kim made the offer to presumptive president Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. whose father, Ferdinand Sr., built the BNPP.

The government of President Corazon Aquino mothballed the BNPP, saying it posed danger to surrounding areas if it was destroyed by a strong earthquake.

However, objective and discerning people knew that the scrapping of the BNPP by the Cory government was out of spite towards the Marcos administration that it replaced.

Nuclear power, used in many parts of the world, would have provided the country with a cheap source of electricity.

Do you know the reason foreign companies shun the Philippines as a business hub and why multinational companies have left the country? One big reason is the high cost of electricity.

*      *      *

Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is probably the only president of the country who apologized to the people for whatever shortcomings he has had on his watch.

“The things that I failed to do, mostly not because of negligence or I have shortcomings but the time really – six years – would not be enough to finish all the projects,” President Digong said.

From where I sit, Digong did his best; but his best was not good enough.

Digong was sincere in going about his job.

He told this columnist about his plans for the country before he took over its helm. My conversation with then Mayor Rody Duterte took place in his simple home in a middle-class village in Davao City about three weeks before he was sworn in as president.

If he chose the right people to undertake all his plans, he would have succeeded, but he didn’t.

The people Digong chose are, like him, mostly promdi – from the province, meaning not used to the ways of the big city – and were probably overwhelmed by the enormity of their jobs.

Even the President himself admitted that what he did successfully as Davao City mayor could not apply nationwide.

*      *      *

I hope Digong makes good on his promise (to this columnist) that he would give complete pardons to retired Army general Jovito Palparan and former police Capt. Reynaldo Jaylo.

Both were convicted by the courts for murders. Both were doing their jobs when the offenses were committed.

Palparan was meted out a sentence of life in prison for the disappearance of two female students of the University of the Philippines (UP) while in the custody of his subordinates.

From what I gathered about the case, I would venture to say that Palparan didn’t have anything to do with the disappearance of the two coeds. He probably didn’t even know that the two UP students were being detained by his subordinates.

The Bulacan court that tried Palparan mainly relied on the testimony of a farmer, being held on suspicion of being a member of the New People’s Army (NPA), who said he saw the general in the vicinity where he and the two students were being detained.

If at all, Palparan is liable for command responsibility because his men did it without his knowledge.

The former general was a nemesis of the NPA. He was dubbed a berdugo (executioner) by leftist groups.

On the other hand, Jaylo was sentenced to life imprisonment in absentia for the killings of two Army officers and a civilian who were caught red-handed with ten kilos of heroin at the Magallanes Commercial Center in Makati in 1990.

Jaylo told me he just obeyed orders from then director Alfredo Lim of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to dispose of the drug traffickers.

Jaylo and his men, then loaned by the Manila Police District to the NBI, were hailed as heroes for the drug sting that resulted in the summary execution of the suspects.

The Sandiganbayan later convicted Jaylo and his men for multiple murders.

Digong told me he would give complete pardon to Palparan and Jaylo before he steps down. This was two years ago in one of my visits to the President in Malacañang.

By the way, Jaylo is known to me as I covered the police beat years ago; Palparan is a complete stranger.

I asked the President for their pardon, taking on his vow to help law enforcers convicted by the courts for performing their duties.

*      *      *

Five years after five months of pitched battles between government troops and members of the local Islamic State (IS) in Marawi City that left the city in ruins, some residents are now speaking up on the alleged looting of their homes by soldiers.

They’re calling for a congressional inquiry.

“We should have an avenue for (airing out complaints). We don’t want the people’s pent-up anger to linger and…another siege to happen,” said Saripada Pacasum Jr. of the Marawi Reconstruction Conflict Watch.

This columnist has received complaints from some residents of massive looting of their homes by soldiers. I have written about it in several instances.

The aggrieved residents, however, refused to come out in the open, fearing reprisal from the military.

“You will notice that the colonels and generals who were in Marawi during the siege are now very rich because of the money stolen from our homes,” said one Maranao resident.

Some members of the Philippine Marines Corps turned over millions of pesos they chanced upon in an abandoned home.

But many other soldiers never announced their finds in abandoned houses and divided the loot among themselves.

This columnist finds the reports of looting in Marawi credible as Maranao merchants are wont to keep their earnings in their homes and not in the banks.


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