EUGENICS was promoted as sound science before the broader world realized the human horrors attached to the genetic scam. So was Donald Trump's crackpot approach to Covid-19, which supposedly could have prevented half a million deaths, but which was hailed by Trump's wingnuts as "scientific" because it recommended a horse dewormer as cure. Trump supporters still managed to append the seal of credible health science to that reckless, senseless and utterly irresponsible approach. In economics, the "efficiency of the markets" and the demonizing of John Maynard Keynes had been the uber profitable gig of conservative economists until so many modern-day crises required the soundness and wisdom of Keynesian intervention.

"Science and engineering" have been malleable and vulnerable to wingnut interpretation and this has been eminently proven by history. These early purveyors of fake science preceded the internet trolls, but the exuberance and the venom are just about par.

In our sad country, you must have noticed this: the supposed "economic freedom" groups organized and funded like the shadowy Koch-affiliated organizations, groups that have never encountered the world's poverty and inequality, have the loudest megaphones and biggest media presence. And they employ junk economics, without evidence and data, in the pursuit of sky-is-the-limit economic growth that is agnostic of equity and social justice. And where in this part of Asia are inequality and poverty deeply rooted and intractable? You are looking at one with 110 million people where the top 1 percent vacuums more than 60 percent of the national income year in and year out. For the "economic freedom" groups, growth is all that matters, even if this lifts the yachts and drowns the rickety boats.

We from West Central Luzon, including University of Illinois professor emeritus Kelvin Rodolfo, probably the most credible Filipino geologist to speak on fault lines and tremblors, view the efforts to attach "science and engineering" to the desperate efforts to shill for the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) commissioning from that same perspective: you can attach "science and engineering" to the most unscientific proposition. Cherry-pick some data, ignore the inherent risks and dangers. Argue from the side of polluted science. With hardly any pushback.

And who are the "scientists and engineers" shilling and flacking for the commissioning of the nuclear plant constructed in 20th century nuclear technology by Westinghouse, once a global industrial giant that has gone the way of those vanished industrial dinosaurs? There is a common bond. They are mostly "scientists and engineers" far away from the giant caldera of Mount Natib. And egged on by their political allies, the ones called "geology-challenged" by Dr. Rodolfo.

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At some point, the dubious arguments for the activation of the mothballed BNPP will have to move on from "science and engineering" to economic costs and benefits. That moment has come. A news item in a business daily said it all: "Cost of grounding BNPP runs up to at least $13 billion." Supposedly, that was a very conservative estimate on what was lost to the "political decision" to mothball an existential threat to the lives of the people of West Central Luzon and the thriving economies there.

Of course, that kind of economic argument missed one point, deliberately. It failed to present the other side, meaning, there was no calculation on how productive and economically powerful West Central Luzon has been with no sword of Damocles (the unsafe and dangerous nuclear plant) looming over and threatening the region. West Central Luzon covers areas of Pampanga near the Bataan boundary primarily the historic town of Lubao, and the provinces of Bataan and Zambales, the two provinces that host an economic juggernaut, the Subic Bay Freeport. The freeport, formerly the biggest naval base of the US outside of continental America, is now a thriving hub for diverse businesses and economic concerns. Plus education and tourism. Do you now want to threaten the peace and quiet of the thriving freeport by operating an unsafe and dangerous nuclear plant not far away from it? Speaking of yachts, the freeport hosts a marina for the yachts of the wealthy and not-so-wealthy.

With no nuclear threat hanging over West Central Luzon, an era of growth was ushered in, and still current at a sustained pace and momentum. On one of the few occasions Mr. Duterte went to Bataan, it was to inaugurate a multistory building that was a rare and inspiring story of local government innovation. That building now serves as a one-stop-shop for all clearances and government permits, to ease and speed up the grant of government clearances, primarily those needed by businesses and entrepreneurs. There won't be a need for such multistory buildings if business and enterprise were not booming and thriving.

Without a nuclear threat, Bataan has shaken most of its agrarian features to join the race to the top in a 21st century knowledge economy. The capital city of Bataan, Balanga, is developing a technology center, with the town of Hermosa, once a farming town (sugar and rice) that is shifting to technology. Prestigious tertiary schools that built campuses in Bataan are now the support structures to the booming regional economy: Letran College, Polytechnic University of the Philippines, Philippine Women's University and small colleges offering computer and technical courses. A topnotch maritime training center that feeds merchant marine officers to Norwegian and European fleets, the Maritime Academy of the Asia and the Pacific, known as Ma-Ap, is in Mariveles City.

Of course, the crowning glory remains the first export processing zone in the country, also in Mariveles City, that hosts anything from light assembly to production of athletic goods and apparel.

A sense of unease is now gripping West Central Luzon over plans of geology-challenged politicians to activate the nuclear plant, which sits right in a dangerous geological fracture called the "Lubao fault." The fault starts in Lubao, then disappears after settling near Mount Natib and the Morong area where the BNPP is located.

Bataan, which was pushed by industrialization to be a province of many ethnicities and languages, a literal babel of tongues, is now united by one thing: opposition to the nuclear plant.

A fully organized and highly motivated anti-nuclear group has emerged. Many in Pampanga and Zambales are alarmed over the possibility of a dangerous, mothballed nuclear plant coming back to life.

You say $13 billion lost to the BNPP grounding? That's penny ante compared to what would be lost in the unfortunate case the earth trembles, the Lubao fault moves and an active BNPP would spill out nuclear Armageddon from its damaged reactors. That would be nuking and wiping from the face of the earth an entire growth corridor.