Deus ex machina and nuke plants


Augusts ago, Noynoy Aquino could have been a goner, thanks to a failed coup. Deus ex machina saw to it that he survived. The same explanation for his ascension to the presidency, after which Jojobama Binay, Alan Peter, Miriam, Bongbong, now lust after. Mom Cory passed away five Augusts ago and elevated PNoy.

No restoration then for Erap, who has not closed his moist eyes on a possible 2016 run, should Jojobama and PNoy go to bed together, Erap warned.

Politics and public life do make strange bedfellows. Pre-Edsa’86, Marcos Loyalist Raffy Recto was one of the staunchest foes of Macoy’s Bataan nuclear power plant. One account I have read said Raffy was applauded in the Batasan for a speech on it when few from the Kilusang Bagong Lipunan (KBL, Kasal Binyag Libing, we said) dared speak against Macoy.

Was I shocked to read the other day respected Macoy Minister Gerardo P. Sicat’s blaming Cory in his PhilStar column for not putting the Bataan nuke plant on line. As much as anybody, I, as Chair of the Cabinet Committee on the plant, and later, of the Senate Committee on it, blocked its operation.

If I had erred in 1986, then engineer FVR could have corrected me quickly in 1992.

What our experts told us was that the plant was simply beyond economic repair and safety concerns remained unresolved.

German and Italy are phasing out their nuke plants today. California looks at its last nuke plant in Diablo Canyon following last week’s earthquake.

Maybe Mr. Sicat should read the September 1, 2014 issue of Time mag, on Fukushima, and its scary cover story; the Japanese tragedy of “three and a half years, after a catastrophic meltdown, Fukushima is far from fixed.” This is sophisticated Japan of Lexus, not the puede-na Philippines of dyips and trikes.

No, PNoy should not listen to Mr. Sicat and Bongbong Marcos. Mark Cojuangco just pleads that a definitive up-or-down decision be made. Fair enough.

Let me remind PNoy of my encounter with Ninoy in Boston in 1982. He then said he enjoyed the quiet life there. I later told others about his forswearing politics; they would smile a la Mona Lisa. There was that wistful catch to his voice, that faraway look, and which I now see in the prism of nostalgia’s soft dusky afterglow, in the amber autumnal half-light as the sun dipped with its lambent flame emitting shafts of purple shades at eventide on that long cool Indian Summer day we talked at length with a panoramic view of beautiful Chestnut Hill.

We did not touch the nuke plant but he knew that Sen. Lorenzo M. Tañada, Joker Arroyo, Nene Pimentel, Sister Aida Velasquez, Jake Almeda Lopez and I, among others, had actively campaigned against operating the plant. And Prez Cory Aquino listened to us in 1986. It seems less than fair for Mr. Sicat to say: “The decision to scuttle the nuclear power project was the result of self-righteous outrage of the new president.”

Chernobyl in April 1986 was again deus ex machina.

As the US, Germany, Japan and Italy now say “wait a minute,” maybe Mr. Sicat should not so casually conclude that our stand was based on a hate-Marcos bias. Raffy Recto was no Marcos-hater.

I do not hate pork, which continues to be used in the US and which we did not misuse in our time (1987-92). I want it kept, like the Judiciary Development Fund, with more transparency and collegiality. It should not be the Chief Justice alone disposing of billions.

And I want to clip the Supreme Court’s powers and bring it down to the level of the US counterpart, from Marbury v. Madison in 1803 (which I studied at Harvard Law in 1967 and learned about Bickel’s unelected Least Dangerous Branch which is here, arguably the most powerful and therefore, the Most Dangerous Branch, thanks to its egocentric self-serving interpretation of Grave Abuse of Discretion, which it transmogrified from ConCom Commissioner Roberto Concepcion’s original concept in a martial law context).

And here I again call the IBP the Irrelevant or Inutil Bar of the Philippines. How dare its head speak for us when it does not poll us even casually in this age of fast communication? Brown-nosing the SC where its officers have cases?

In 1972, I voted NO on bar integration, partly influenced by Justice Felix V. Makasiar, who was concerned it would be misused by a dictator (who turned out to be his UP classmate). I refused to pay dues but changed my mind when Justice Jose Benedicto Luna Reyes became its inspiring head. He was also the one who sent word to me to help those charged in military tribunals, where I met JJ Justiniano, in Military Commission No. 6, in Nichols. JJ was then with Ka Pepe Diokno.

JJ and we were on opposite sides on the case of US soldier Daniel Smith but that’s professionalism. To ad-hominem us as self-righteous Marcos haters seems less than professional.


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  1. Rene , you are to flowery in your discourse,,,,,,,after FUKUSHIMA that should put the BNPP to rest,

    You are partly to blame… did not jail those responsible for it , they WERE your clutches, now they are at it again. A FAILED ATTEMPT AT REVOLUTION 1986

    When criminals are let go they just go on doing the same thing !

  2. victor m. hernandez on

    ok, so that doesn’t put forward any idea how to solve the impending, or actually, power and energy crises. Subic’s big power plant has been imposed writ of kalikasan by SC, even as technology for clean coal is available. And government is helpless in restraining electricity prices as the EPIRA favors big businesss to exploit the situation. After all the privatization of NAPOCOR power generating plants, there is no effective moderating lever that government can use to moderate prices, and profit taking of the big businesses in power generation. WESM can be manipulated, and the members of the ERB can be made to look the other way, or compute the wrong way to favor p[rofit taking businesses in the power generating industry. The present policy of oligopolistic control of the power generating industry with very weak or actually lack of effective regulation to control manipulation, only sustain the status qou, and further aggravate poverty situation and joblessness.

  3. The decision not to turn on the nuclear plant seems to have been a polictical decision. That means, not based on fact, but based on opinion. I am of the opinion that we needed it turned on then and we should see what it needs to be turned on now. I hope the decision back then is looked at to clearly determine what is best.

    Leave the SC alone and protect it. It is saving us from a form of dictactorship.

  4. “No, PNoy should not listen to Mr. Sicat and Bongbong Marcos.”

    Indeed, no, we should not listen to any of them. We should listen to sober-minded experts and scientists who are without any vested interests.

    But Atty Saguisag, you should consider consulting a financial expert how the decision to mothball the plant while continuing to pay for it eventually led to the bankruptcy of the Philippines. Kung nababanggit ang kahirapan ng Pilipinas wala ka nang sinabi kung hindi ang korapsyon ni Marcos.

    • i agree. should consider it mr. saguisag… at least, now i know you’re one of the culprits on that mothballing. as far as i know from the engineers during the construction, safety has never been a concern then, coz they doubled the required standards. why not just tell us that the decision wasn’t all about the operational technicalities but politics? we could simply understand it that way, anyway, cory is already dead.

  5. jose hernani m. parco on

    this here it the best and the truest reality re: nuclear power plants, let’s hear it from the genius himself for the nth time already!

    “BILL GATES, HEAD OF A CHARITY, is every bit as brilliant and hyperrational as Bill Gates, head of Microsoft, ever was. the cochair of the world’s biggest foundation. but he really gets amped up about the future of energy.

    what happened in Japan is terrible, and there are many reasons it should have been avoided. the environmental and human damage is clearly very negative, but if you compare that to then number of people that coal or natural gas have killed per kilowatt-hour generated, it’s way, way less. the nuclear industry has this amazing record. but nuclear mishaps tend to come in big events-Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima-so it’s more visible. coal and natural gas have much lower capital costs, and they tend to kill only a few at a time, which is highly preferred by politicians!

    to be truthful as of today how many Pilipinos have the BNPP killed so far?
    you compare that to that very notorious shipping company, the Dona Paz tragedy alone has killed thousands, how come this suspicious line is still around with complete permit of sea worthiness?
    and this govt. does not see or even aware of the constant regular routine visit of the US armada carrying in it’s hold WEAPONS OF MASS DESTRUCTION as dangerous?! you tell me…..

  6. I like that sarcasm remark “Inutile Bar of the Philippines” or Irrelevant Bar of the Philippines, take your pick. Atty. Saguisag, even your sense of humor is brilliant.

  7. egis totheend on

    Indeed, Sir, you’re exemplary. Your patriotism need no more elaboration. With pro Macoy people trying to raise him still and pull you down with those beside you on this N-plant issue is merely for a show.

    I’m as powerless as that of a simple person in a rural town but I know and understand who really are those for the poor. Who are those who only think for themselves. Now many could not just make money easily as before when P-Noy took the rein of gov’t. They think they can still do what used to be their modus but not anymore. So, they have to shift style and see what means are left for them to get back at their old racket but they find it hard now. The PDAF which were made as source of some Congressmen to enrich themselves and from which are taken some to feed them is gone. Local C-Executives are now very cautious with their own funds and will never indulged on activities they used to do before. (If senators can be detained now, it’s not hard getting them to prison for fund use or abuse).

    So, the only viable thing to do is get rid of P-Noy because his reform agenda is hurting their corrupt way of livelihood. And now they see an an opportunity to strike and they will not stop it. They will continue to demonize P-Noy and his virtual successor from his side to no end until they raise one whom they believe will allow resumption of their usual corrupt way.

    • egis totheend on

      By the way, I am in favor of Pork but we need to have FOI law in order to hasten information gathering pertaining to its use.

    • The PDAF which you say was a source of enrichment for some Congressmen was TRIPLED by PNoy. It stopped not because PNoy stopped it but because the Supreme Court ruled it as unconstitutional.

      The FOI which was promised by PNoy as his priority if he became President was held up by his own party on his own instructions. Didn’t you read his explanation why he changed his mind?

      Now, many could not just make money as easily as before. Yes, of course. They have been replaced by friends and allies of PNoy and PNoy is looking the other way hehe. Think MRT, NFA, LTO, Customs…

    • No, the nuclear plant issue is not a sideshow. The issue is important pestering because we now have one of the most expensive power rates in the world. Think of your own electric bills. It was also paid for by our taxes, to the tune of $2,300,000,000 for thirty (?) years but we have not been benefited because people like Saguisag decided on their own, we could not use it. Okay lang sana kung pera nila pinambayad nila!

  8. The government should call international nuclear plant experts to assess the present status of our Bataan Nuclear plant once and for all. And its report must be immediately made known to the public. On the issue about porks, we know the basic purpose is good but at the present circumstances, what with our current immature and immorally cultured politicians nowadays and only God knows when these public servants become reformed, add to it the decision of SC that it is unconstitutional, it should be scrapped for now.

  9. I respectfully disagree with you saying/believing that the SC is the most powerful/dangerous branch when it is not the one holding the gun. It is the chief executive as the commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces is, not only in my opinion but, has been displayed by the late Pres. Marcos over the other two branches. And as Mao said that power grows out of the barrel of a gun, so is the power of the President the most dangerous.

  10. Andres R. Samson on

    The experts who advised against the operation of the nuke plant did so against their better judgment. The same type of nuke plant and the attendant standards in its design and construction are still in wide use in the US today. The generating capacity that was lost could have catapulted PH to a higher level of economic performance and development. Succeeding efforts to improve power generation and its related costs during the FVR tenure hardly made a mark to cut down the costs to meet the demands of the developing economy. EPIRA, the basic law supposed to rationalize power generation is now targeted for repeal.

    • Common_Sense09 on

      Hearing Macoys words about how the PH will be bagsak 20 years from his rule because of the non-operation of the BNPP still sends chills up my spine. Oh how right was he!