Thursday , April 26, 2018

Wenceslao: Tagbilaran slay, coal plant endorsement

I WAS among those jolted by the killing of Mia Manuelita Mascariñas-Green, described as an environmental lawyer, in Tagbilaran City, Bohol on February 15. My memory of that city (I was arrested there in 1988) was always of a peaceful and deeply religious place. It is a relatively small city with a small urban center and a big suburban and rural section. It is a lovely place to be in.

I heard that the Tagbilaran police already identified the suspects and the mastermind and that the crime is related to conflict in the ownership of a resort in Panglao, also in Bohol. The problem is that the suspects may have already fled either the city or the province altogether because the hunt that is being mounted have turned out negative so far.

As I said, it is difficult to prevent determined criminals from doing their thing because law enforcers do not know when and how they will strike. But a good way to prevent similar attacks from happening again is to identify and arrest the perpetrators and then punish them to the full extent of the law. Jailing killers is a deterrence. So too the showing that no crime will go unpunished.


I consider as interesting the Cebu City Council’s endorsement to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) 7 of the proposed coal-fired power plant project by Ludo Power Corp. in Barangay Sawang Calero. Eight Team Rama councilors, together with two supposedly independent (translation: pro-BOPK) ones were solid in their endorsement while four of the six Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BOPK) signified their opposition. Surprisingly, the remaining two abstained.

Okay, we are still in the very preliminary stage. The intention of the majority for the endorsement is obviously to transfers to DENR 7 the burden of sifting through the proposal. But I am with Councilors Margarita Osmeña, Sisinio Andales, Eugenio Gabuya Jr. and Mary Ann delos Santos on this one. The council should have gotten the sentiment of the public about the project first.

I am also one with those opposing the project on two grounds: one, I am against coal-fired power plants per se because of its effect on the environment (or can there be clean coal?); two, Sawang Calero is not in the Sahara but in the populous section of the city—how can we allow that? But Sawang Calero folks and people in the surrounding barangays must speak out and make their voices heard also.


So the effort by Mayor Tomas Osmeña to win Team Rama councilors over to the BOPK side has failed so far. All of the councilors mentioned in rumors—Councilors James Cuenco, Philip Zafra, Jerry Guardo and Pastor Alcover Jr.--have announced their continued allegiance to Team Rama.

But I have one message to Team Rama leaders: you have an opponent (in Osmeña) that just doesn’t rest. Cuenco’s father, former congressman Antonio Cuenco, has admitted that the mayor personally invited him to join the BOPK. A more apt description of that in Cebuano would be “gikamang.” It showed that Osmeña has been busy the past months.