, JUNE 12, 2007 (STAR) By Donnabelle Gatdula - The Philippines will not be ready to use nuclear power until after 2022, Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla said.

“Tapping nuclear power for the country’s electricity requires long-term planning. It will take an estimated 15 years to train experts, study, decide and implement this option,” he said.

Lotilla said in the 25-year development plan formulated under President Fidel Ramos, nuclear power will only be considered for the period after 2022.

But Lotilla confirmed that there are already preparations being made for the possible utilization of such power source in the future.

“To be able to make an informed decision on the matter, the Philippines has embarked on finalizing a Human Resource Development program to develop a corps of nuclear scientists and technical experts,” he said.

The areas to be studied, Lotilla said, include aspects of nuclear power plant operations such as site, safety, security, transport of nuclear fuel, health and environmental impact, social acceptability and disposal.

The energy chief said the same preparations would allow the Philippines to learn from the lessons of other countries in the region.

“Since Vietnam and Indonesia announced plans to construct nuclear power plants and Taiwan has existing ones, the HRD program will also enable the Philippines to handle any eventuality arising from nuclear power plant operations in neighboring countries,” he said.

PNP chief pulls out 114 cop-bodyguards from VIPs By Cecille Suerte Felipe Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Police working as security escorts will be pulled out of their VIP assignments to safeguard the opening of the 14th Congress.

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Oscar Calderon has ordered the pullout of a total of 114 police officers acting as escorts for wealthy Chinese-Filipino traders so they may be assigned to the Senate and the House of Representatives for the opening of Congress next month.

Calderon instructed PNP Police Security Protection Office (PSPO) director Chief Superintendent Romeo Hilomen to effect the pullout on June 18.

“General Calderon ordered the pullout of 114 police officers acting as security and bodyguards of wealthy traders so we could have enough personnel to be assigned to the Senate and House of Representatives,” Hilomen told The STAR.

The PNP-Special Action Force (SAF) used to secure the Senate and the House but the PNP leadership recalled them last September to help in the government’s intensified drive against the insurgency.

Despite the scheduled pullout of police security, Hilomen said about 500 police officers are to be retained as security details for victims of heinous crimes and those with imminent threats to their lives.

He said the PNP has made proper coordination with these traders, most of them Chinese-Filipino, about the pullout. The PNP has admitted that wealthy traders are possible targets of kidnapping groups.

In March, the PSPO announced that, after the elections, the PNP will pull out police escorts for about 300 individuals, including 100 wealthy Chinese-Filipino individuals, to allow them to concentrate on police work.

Hilomen added that the effect of the pullout of police officers from their previous assignments will still be analyzed by the PNP leadership.

He said individuals whose police security escorts will be pulled out have the option to hire their own private security escorts from among the security specialists accredited by the PNP-Civil Security Group (CSG).

Hilomen also gave assurances that “these civilian escorts are well-trained.”

When the PNP leadership announced the pullout in March, members of the Chinese- Filipino community assailed the plan, which they said would surely jeopardize their safety and security.

Teresita Ang-See, president of the Movement for Restoration of Peace and Order (MRPO), said then that “the pullout will have a dampening and demoralizing effect on the victims who dared to file cases in court against notorious syndicates and big-time (kidnappping syndicate) leaders – like (members of) the police (force) and the likes of former congressman and actor Dennis Roldan.”

Roldan, his girlfriend Suzzette See-Wang and several other individuals were charged with kidnapping and are now facing trial before the Pasig City Regional Trial Court for the abduction of a seven-year-old boy a few years ago.

Ang-See said they often have to beg kidnap victims to file charges, and the withdrawal of security is tantamount to saying the government doesn’t care.

The PNP, however, said that, in some cases, wealthy individuals asked for more police security escorts because having several escorts could be used as a “status symbol” – to the detriment of the police force.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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