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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, April 15, 2016
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with Rolly Espina

Put Zubiri back in the Senate

Rolly EspinaWithout a doubt, Migz Zubiri, like Senator Serge Osmeña will win here in Negros, not only because they boast of Negrense roots, but because these two senators have done more for our province and the sugar industry than any other members of the Upper Chamber.

Of course, it doesn't mean that I like all candidates that claim they have roots here in one way or the other. Definitely, and because I still find no reason not to vote for him, Mar Roxas remains my presidentiable and though Cong. Leni Robredo does not have any connection here whatsoever, I think she remains the most credible among the vice-presidential candidates.

Though I've heard a lot of sugar planters and the elite went en masse to the reception for Sen. Bongbong Marcos, maybe because they know his wife, Liza Araneta or her family, he is not even in my list of considerations and could not fathom how others here could simply forget what their family has done to this country and to our people.

But lest I digress from my musings about Migz Zubiri, let me share what I know about this young guy who, despite his short stint in the Senate before he was replaced by Sen. Koko Pimentel, has done so much, not just for Negros but for our country.

Migz has and always will be a very amiable guy. He always has this ready smile and I think he remains a favorite among the media because he makes himself readily available for an interview.

His political ads show that he was among our hardworking legislators who has never been absent in sessions and ensuring that he pushes for the real sentiments of the people.

Among his landmark legislation is the Renewable Energy Act which he authored in 2008 and for which he lobbied very hard that within a year, he was able to have it passed into a law, the fruits of which we are already seeing.

Just look at the landscape of Negros island in terms of renewable power. This year alone, we inaugurated a lot of solar plants and soon there will be more as installation continues in other parts of the province including in Bais, Negros Oriental.

Yesterday's headline from the Oriental side quoted Zubiri saying that almost 3 million jobs have been generated because of the entry of renewable energy sources with 406 projects to date all over the country.

Not to mention the billions of investment that goes with it and more importantly, having these REs will ease out our coal-fired plants which continues to pollute our environment.

With so much power in the island, more than what we can consume actually, I see no reason why our electric cooperatives will disengage with their contracts with these coal-fired power producers, particularly with Kepco on the basis of environmental concerns.

Of course there is difference in the price and in terms of sustainability. Harnessing energy via solar plants is more expensive than coal by more than double. However, we have to take into consideration the long-term effects, some of which we have been experiencing already.

If our solar plants can find ways to ensure sustainable power without increasing the cost further, then we will be in a better position to kick-out these coal-fired plants.

I remembered my daughter's recount of that chilly winter in Beijing where government declared a red alert after pollution caused by coal-fired plants became unbearable and dangerous to people's health. We would not want that to happen here but from recent interviews, it seems one presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, is favoring this option though, one more reason among the many why he will never be my candidate.

Negros Oriental is definitely more fortunate to host the Palinpinon Geothermal Plant since among the renewable energy sources, geothermal and hydro remain the most reliable and the cheapest forms there is. If we can harness more of these two, our island will attract more development and investments because we can claim to have the cheapest renewable power in our area.

And this is where Migz has an advantage over other senatorial candidates. Some reelectionists have been in the Senate longer than he has and they have nothing of this magnitude to boast of.

Though Migz remain in the safe place as far as surveys is concerned, and which perhaps is a vindication of his removal from the Senate before, he should not remain complacent and must continue to push for his agenda.

Not only does he create vital legislations, Migz has the foresight to ensure that these laws will generate jobs, income and development and we need more like him in the Senate.*

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