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05 March 2009

The controversial Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) is bound to be mothballed in perpetuity after the Committee on Appropriations unanimously adopted an amendment made by Rep. Edcel C. Lagman requiring the conduct of a prior validation or feasibility study as a condition precedent for the rehabilitation and operation of the BNPP as proposed by Rep. Mark Cojuangco in House Bill No. 4631.

The Lagman amendment reads:

“The amount of One Hundred Million Pesos (P100,000,000.00) is hereby appropriated chargeable against the appropriations of   the Department of Energy (DOE) under the current General Appropriations Act and/or supplemented or augmented by the National Power Corporation (NAPOCOR) for the conduct and completion of a validation or feasibility study to determine the viability of rehabilitating, commissioning and commercially operating the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) as a nuclear facility taking into consideration technical, safety, economic, financial and ecological concerns and using as references previous feasibility studies conducted before and after the BNPP was mothballed in 1986.

“The study must also include the alternative uses of the BNPP for the generation of efficient, ecologically-safe, cost-effective and affordable electricity.

“The subject study shall be a condition precedent for the rehabilitation, commissioning and commercial operation of the BNPP.”

Oppositors to the operation of the BNPP as a nuclear facility hailed the Lagman initiative as a “killer amendment” because they believe an updated feasibility study would validate the structural defects, safety risks and ecological hazards of the BNPP which led to its mothballing in 1986.

Critics of HB 4631 also claim that the study will also document the huge financial outlay required to rehabilitate the BNPP which will make its operation unviable, wasteful and unprofitable.

18 February 2009

An overwhelming 86% of residents of the City of Manila are in favor of the enactment of the reproductive health bill now pending before Congress according to the results of the latest survey conducted from December 27-29, 2008 and released today by the SWS.

“This is 15% higher than the result of the nationwide survey conducted by the SWS in September 2008,” said Rep. Edcel C. Lagman, principal author of House Bill 5043 on Reproductive Health, Responsible Parenthood and Population Development.

Lagman said that 88% of Manila residents also agree that government must be required by law to teach family planning to the youth compared to the results of the earlier national survey which revealed that 76% of Filipinos favored the inclusion of family planning in the school curriculum.

Moreover, 64% say that there should be a statute mandating government to distribute condoms, pills and IUDs to people who want to avail of modern contraceptive methods.

15 February 2009

The foot-dragging by the Philippine executive department in negotiating with American authorities the transfer of Lance Cpl. Daniel Smith to a Philippine penal facility is bound to create a constitutional crisis.

The delay in complying with the order of the Supreme Court that forthwith the Romulo-Kenney agreement must be renegotiated subverts the judicial supremacy of the highest tribunal.

The Romulo-Kenney agreement allowed the detention of Smith in the American Embassy pending appeal of his conviction for rape.

The Supreme Court ruled that this arrangement is repugnant to the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) which provides that an American military personnel charged with a crime before a Philippine court has to be detained in a facility under Philippine authorities and the only condition is that the facility must be agreed upon by representatives of the Philippine and American governments.

The custody of Smith cannot depend on the self-serving option of the American authorities because this would impair the constitutional power of judicial review of the Supreme Court.

The Philippine government cannot just stand by and wait until the Americans are “ready to talk” because they may capriciously refuse to talk or deliberately procrastinate to renegotiate.


•      On the whole, both the majority and dissenting opinions uphold Philippine sovereignty and jurisdiction over criminally errant American soldiers in the Philippines, and fortifies the feminist movement in the country.

•      Both the majority and dissenting opinions sustain the position that pending Smith’s appeal before the Court of Appeals from his conviction by the RTC of Makati, he should be confined in a facility under Philippine authorities. The difference is that the majority decision holds in abeyance the transfer of Smith from the US Embassy to a Philippine penitentiary or detention center pending renegotiation of the Romulo-Kenney agreement placing Smith under American authorities in the US Embassy. The order for renegotiation gives recognition to the VFA provision that the choice of the detention facility under Philippine authorities should be agreed upon by appropriate Philippine and American representatives. On the other hand, the minority decision orders the immediate transfer of Smith to the National Bilibid Prison in Muntinlupa.

•     The majority decision does not impose a deadline on when the renegotiation should be started and completed, although it orders that the renegotiation be done “forthwith”. In reality, the eventual transfer of Smith can be expeditious or sluggish depending on the contingencies and exigencies of diplomacy.

•      Another major difference is that the majority decision upholds the constitutionality of the VFA as an implementation of the RP-US Mutual Defense Treaty. The minority decision strikes down the VFA as unconstitutional because while the Philippines, through the Senate, ratified it as a treaty, the United States does not accord it the status of a treaty. I agree with Chief Justice Reynato Puno that it is lamentable that it is the Philippines itself which derogates its parity as a sovereign state with the United States.

06 February 2009

Rep. Roilo Golez in his vain attempt to demonize the RH bill has been presenting to his colleagues misleading, deceptive, unreliable, underreported and unofficial data.        

In order to portray that family planning and contraceptive use have no correlation to maternal mortality and infant deaths and that the country’s current maternal and infant mortality ratios are not alarming, Golez is guilty of the following flawed methodologies:

1.      He “cherry-picks” his statistics from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research of the WHO on contraceptive prevalence rates (CPR) of different countries in relation to their respective population growth rates (PGR) without disclosing the vast variances in base years of the two indicators, so much so that no sound and logical statistical conclusion can be established.