Environmental activist group Greenpeace Philippines warned that the outgoing administration of President Rodrigo Duterte “may be railroading more nuclear decisions through ‘midnight’ deals … potentially leaving Filipinos locked into onerous agreements.”
The warning came after the government signed on March 10 a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the United States following the release of Duterte’s Executive Order 164, which gives life to the country’s national nuclear power program, in February.
The Philippines and the US signed the MOU reportedly to boost cooperation on developing the Philippines’ nuclear energy program.
The MOU on Strategic Civil Nuclear Cooperation was signed by Philippine Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. and US Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins.
“The Duterte administration, which has long been peddling nuclear power, now appears to be in a frenzy to close as many nuclear deals as possible before their term ends,” said Greenpeace campaigner Khevin Yu.
“Something very fishy is going on, and the Filipino people will end up paying for the consequences for all these questionable decisions,” said Yu in a statement released on March 14.
Duterte initially rejected nuclear power in 2016, but shortly after made a complete turnaround. Under his administration, the Department of Energy, under Secretary Alfonso Cusi, became one of the biggest promoters of the use of nuclear energy in the country, signing deals with Russia, Korea and, recently, the United States.
In its statement, Greenpeace maintains that nuclear power is “the most expensive, most dangerous, and dirtiest form of electricity.”
“Costs for nuclear power do not only include capital costs and operations, but also handling and storage of radioactive nuclear waste, as well as costs for dismantling and decommissioning,” read the group’s statement.
On Monday, Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga in Bataan province, where the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was built, expressed his opposition to proposals to rehabilitate the plant.
“They know very well the real situation and condition of [the nuclear plant],” said Bishop Santos. “It is sitting on a dormant volcano,” he said over Radio Veritas 846 on Monday.
“Our future, or our future on energy, is not on BNPP,” he said. “It is danger and destruction,” he added.
“It is dead issue here,” said Bishop Santos. “No one is talking about its rehabilitation nor any political candidate here campaigns for opening/study of the Bataan nuclear power plant,” he said.
The prelate said the nuclear plant “will never produce added electricity and the cost of rehabilitation will only be ways and means for graft and corruption as its construction is founded on greed.”
In 2018, Bishop Santos said the issue of the revival of the mothballed BNPP should be put to “eternal rest.”
He said that reviving the BNPP is a waste of money as it will not be beneficial to the country, adding that it is “not functional, defective, and dangerous.”
Built during the years of martial law, the 620-megawatt BNPP in Morong, Bataan, was never activated following the Chernobyl disaster in Russia in 1986.