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The Manila Times : Bataan nuclear power plant 'a great and noble idea'

News & Interviews
4 November 2021

By The Manila Times

Re columnist Rene Saguisag's piece "Another Battle of Bataan" (The Manila Times, Oct. 29, 2021):

THE Battle of Bataan in the Second World War is very common to people of my age (I am 83), as we are living witnesses to that historic event. I was three years old when the Japs came into our town and was already six when the Japs retreated. It so happened that a Japanese ship, with Red Cross markings on it and with 600 soldiers on board, anchored on our bay, possibly to pass the day away from being spotted by Allied planes and then continue their escape to Japan at night. Unfortunately for them, the guerrillas radioed the Americans, and in no time, two American planes came to bomb the ship. The sound of the bombs and the sight of people running towards the seashore made me follow them and together with fellow young kibitzers, took cover beside a small banca (boat). From there we saw Japanese soldiers swimming ashore as guerrillas, armed with bolos and bamboo poles with sharpened ends, met them before their foot touched the shoreline. In a matter of three hours, there was no more action, but I saw the sea turned red, wondering to myself: is this sea the same as the Red Sea I used to read in history books?

Going straight to the point, I would suggest that President Marcos, having gallantly fought the enemy as a young lieutenant of the USA Far East(USAFE) Command right then and there in Bataan, must have made a noble idea of keeping the "lights burning" in the fields of Bataan, thus decided to build the first ever nuclear-powered plant in Asia. It is therefore unkind and humiliating to impute or even suggest that Marcos wanted to harm the people nearby, or even made money from it. It is sad to say that those who saw and said nothing good to this great and strong president went on to sort of substitute April 9 (the Fall of Bataan) with dates like August 21, to commemorate the death of their martyr and hero Benigno Aquino Jr. who, they may not know or maybe know but pretend not to know, had organized/founded the New People's Army (NPA) right in the very safe enclave of Hacienda Luisita, this according to veteran journalist and confessed top communist returnee, Rigoberto Tiglao in his column in the same daily lnquirer (where, according to Saguisag, Prof. Rolando Simbulan wrote his piece "How the Battle vs Bataan was won" in its October 24 issue) at the time the Philippine Senate was conducting its impeachment trial of the late Chief Justice Renato Corona. I don't know if this time those people who saw nothing wrong with anything the Aquinos do share the people's view that President Aquino 3rd went berserk when the Supreme Court finally decided to distribute the Hacienda Luisita lands to its rightful owners after more than 50 years of waiting, thereby initiating, corrupting and bribing the senators with hundreds of millions or even billions of the people's money to finally impeach the head of the highest court of the land or what lawyers like Atty. Saguisag refer to as the court of last resort.

Further, I would like to point out that granting the Chernobyl and Three Mile Island incidents were caused by defects or fatigue as a result of old age, the same may not be the reason Germany is decommissioning all its nuclear power plants by next year. It is a very technologically sophisticated country such that "power" derived from nuclear energy, like what the Bataan Nuclear Plant should have produced, can already be generated/produced by other means like solar, wind or maybe the ocean now. The Fukushima incident is totally different as it was caused by a natural calamity. It's like the Typhoon "Ondoy" flooding and very similar to the Tacloban City deluge that no one expected or even predicted to happen but did happen anyway. But as a nation we must move on to progress and look at science as our guiding star. Towards the road to progress, we encounter difficulties brought about by nature, by mistakes of our own like choosing corrupt or do-nothing leaders, or even science itself. But it is not enough reason to shun riding airplanes just because an Airbus or a Boeing passenger plane crashed with no survivors found. It is not enough reason, too, to shun being vaccinated because of news from wherever else that some people experienced harmful effects or even died.

Just as it is not right to use the abovementioned nuclear-related incidents to justify the non-use of an already standing and expensive (purchase cost) but very efficient, economically and environmentally friendly operated power plant. Germany, like, Japan was practically brought down to the ground after World War 2 but because of its resilient people, rose again as a highly industrialized country using nuclear powered plants for more or less 50 years without any accident. If Germany is decommissioning all its nuclear power plants next year, it's maybe because they already invented a modern and more economical way of producing their electricity needs.

For the above, I would like to make the proposition that had President Corazon Aquino allowed the commissioning and the operation of the Bataan nuclear power plant, the Philippines would now be a very progressive country with all sorts of factories and industrial plants powered by cheap electricity and, naturally, busy with economic activities. Politics would not have been the number one business in the country now. We would not be hounded with stories after stories of "heroic exploits" like being able to help Cory Aquino prevent the use of the Bataan nuclear plant as if its significance is even more glaring and daring than that of the young lieutenant Ferdinand Marcos offering his life in that famous and historic "Battle of Bataan."

Alejandro A. Daquigan