Of guns and power PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 04 June 2018 11:33

BEHIND  THE  LINES

BY BOB JALDON

Reno, NV. — The moment he sat as mayor in 2004, Mr. Celso Lobregat’s marching orders to the police were to crush illegal drugs and go after loose firearms.There were some positive results in both campaigns, especially in the war on drugs. With the help of the police, two Chinese doing business in the city were arrested and jailed after their meth lab in a barangay in the east coast was busted. But not so much with gun control as the gun ban is in effect, which is a weird thing, only during election exercises.

Despite Mr. Lobregat’s decree on illegal drugs and gun control, few illegal firearms have been confiscated, but the jails have been overcrowded with drug offenders and court dockets are mounting, leaving a great deal of backlog to prosecute the offenders.

The academe and the clergy have urged the passage of tighter gun control laws. With the rise in robbery and homicide cases with the use of guns, there appears to be no serious campaign to get the firearms in the hands of the unscrupulous. The only time, as I’ve said, the gun ban is in force is during political exercises along with the sale of liquor. And the enforcement looks sloppy as we look at the number of shooting cases during election periods all over the country.

In the United States, the politicians are proposing new gun control measures after a series of deadly school shootings and armed robberies. They want background-check rules tightened even as the constitution allows citizens to bear arms. There are efforts in the U.S. Congress to raise the age requirement for buying guns from 18 to 21.

The situation in the Philippines, particularly Zamboanga city, is different where you have armed bodyguards of visiting politicians moving around town, assassins ready to kill at a money’s notice, armed robbers invading homes and thieves with revolvers ready to strike at their victims. The bad hombres don’t buy guns at gun stores. They get them from their padrinos or buy them from gun-runners.

During Marcos’s Martial Law, the military and police were authorized to conduct zoning operations in notorious places for loose firearms. Checkpoints were set up in various places (chokepoints, they call them) at the height of the Muslim armed struggle in Mindanao. These days, we see less and less of checkpoints and no zoning operations by the military.

Now, power.

Madre de cacao. The Zamboanga City Electric Cooperative (Zamcelco) has been the target of displeased consumers that it has become anathema in every household because of the rampant, oftentimes unannounced blackouts that last sometimes for eight hours. (Ex-PBA Crispa Redmanizer Cesar “Boy” Ijares was so infuriated that he couldn’t watch the Houston-Warriors knockout game last Monday. His pal, Boy Johnston, had to feed him the scores from Foster city.)The consumers also raised a howl about the intermittent abrupt blackouts of three to four times daily that ruin appliances, especially refrigerators, electric fans and air conditioning units.

Zamcelco management is not to be faulted, as clearly the power fluctuations and cut-off are the result of maintenance work being undertaken by the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP).

The power outages, according to Engineer Ben Conti’s expert opinion, are caused by the breakdown of the main breaker in Putik because of the uncoordinated protection relays of the 69 KV lines and the 13.2 KV lines. He said that when the 69 KV breakers trip off, it can’t be switched on immediately because of some technical problems that can last more than two hours.

Anyway, after the maintenance and operational work by the NGCP, Zamboanga will see a more stable delivery of electricity with less fluctuations. The welcome news is that Zamboanga won’t have to grapple with frequent blackouts once the Investment and Management Contract (IMC) between Zamcelco and Meralco is approved by the consumers in a general membership meeting and the National Electrification Administration hopefully this month.