THE assassination of Ninoy Aquino on Aug. 21, 1983 opened the eyes of millions of Filipinos and pushed them to beef up the ranks of what we called the parliament of the streets and the anti-dictatorship movement that culminated in the uprising in Edsa in February 1986.

But though Ninoy’s death and the plight of many others like him led to the collapse of the dictatorship, justice for what happened to them was incomplete. The official investigations never uncovered the mastermind of the Aquino assassination. Fr. Rudy Romano, another Marcos victim, was never found.

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Now that Ninoy’s son is sitting in Malacañang, perhaps the time has come for us to finally know the whole truth.


While Cebu human rights advocates had been commemorating the disappearance of Fr. Rudy Romano and Levi Ybañez every year, the focus had always been on Fr. Rudy. Only a few could recall Levi (his real name was Rolan Ybañez).

Levi was picked up by another group of military men while walking along Sanciangko St. on his way to the offices of the Professionals’ Forum headed by Zenaida Uy and the Coalition Against People’s Persecution (CAPP) on the same day Fr. Rudy Romano was abducted.

Last week, a researcher for Bantayog sa mga Bayani Foundation got in touch with me, asking for information about Levi’s activities in Cebu before his abduction. They’re planning to write about Levi’s life. I think books about key players of the anti-dictatorship movement in Cebu are long overdue. When we browse libraries and bookstores, we see a lot of books about Edsa and the key players in Metro Manila. But the movement in Cebu was also very active and strong.

I plan to write two books after I finish this project on the history of Minglanilla for the University of San Carlos Cebuano Studies Center and the Cebu Provincial Government. I already submitted my final draft that took me almost two years on the history of Naga City and started on Minglanilla two months ago.

On the anti-dictatorship movement, I already have several notes on those days I spent with Fr. Romano. I also promised the late Job Tabada to write a volume on his involvement in Silliman University and later as a Cebu-based journalist.


It seems militant environmentalists in Cebu are so focused on stopping the operations of coal-fired plants that they are glossing over the eventual consequence of a power crisis. They simply cannot accept that renewable energy like solar and wind power, at its present level of technology, cannot replace coal-fired plants as source for base-load power. All they need to do to realize this is study the experience of Pangan-an island regarding their solar power and Ilocos Norte, which is the location of Southeast Asia’s first wind turbines.

Thus, they said they are asking the environmental court to issue an environmental protection order to protect us and the environment against coal ash. But they are very silent on the impact of such an order on our delicate power supply situation.

But before we dismiss the environmentalist movement in Cebu as hopelessly narrow-minded, I learned that a more moderate alliance of environmentalists are open to the pursuit of a multiplicity of energy sources that includes coal because this is for base-load, but also push for the setting up of more plants using renewable sources.

This alliance is behind the first Cebu celebration of the international Earth Dance Festival on Sept. 18 and 19, 2010 in an effort to raise awareness about the environment and sustainable development in Cebu.


Sources within the electric coops in Cebu also told me that they are not keen on buying power from the privatized geothermal plants in Leyte and Negros because the price of electricity they are selling the distributors is higher than that of coal plants. They have this commitment to their consumers and coop members to keep the price of power as low as possible. If the whole Visayas grid will shift to geothermal energy, the price of electricity will shoot up overnight.

This is so because of flaws in the Electric Power Industry Reform Act or Epira that need to be amended. In fact, some 30 electric coops in the Visayas have recently asked Energy Secretary Rene Almendras to stop privatization of the National Power Corp. plants in the three Visayas regions to prevent sharp increases in the price of electricity before the end of 2010.

I am saying 2010 because Epira mandated full privatization by the end of the year. Unless our legislators amend Epira, our present electric bill will double by January 2011.

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