Today, as we commemorate the 44th anniversary of the declaration of Martial law, we in AGHAM Advocates of Science and Technology for the People unite with all the victims of the human rights violations and grave abuses during the dark days of the Marcos regime. One of the injustices during the time of Marcos is the creation of the nuclear power project, the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant that was built to address the power crisis in the country. We reiterate our call against the revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) as a solution to the country’s worsening power crisis. We also rebuke the recent statements of the Department of Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi who said that he is open to exploring the possibility of using nuclear power and reviving the BNPP to ensure a secured power supply for the coming generations.
The BNPP is a Martial Law remnant that needs to be permanently shelved for us to move forward. Constructed in 1976 under the Marcos regime as a response to the 1973 global oil crisis, the nuclear power plant was completed in 1984 and has never operated commercially when it was mothballed in 1986 following protests from different civil society groups who aired concerns regarding the safety of the plant. The plant is on the slopes of Mount Natib, a capable volcano, which will not only put the community around in danger but also violates current regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency on sites where a nuclear plant can be built. The USD 2.3 billion project was also tagged as a product of crony corruption in the Marcos era.
The plant harbors obsolete technology which cannot meet the country’s growing demand even if operated. Its 620-megawatt capacity fails in comparison to the capacity of other energy sources in our country which can be developed if given proper investment. Aside from traditional sources such as oil and natural gas, we also have renewable energy sources such as geothermal, hydrothermal, solar, and wind energy. It is estimated that hydropower plants alone have a 13,000-megawatt energy generation capacity while we are the second in the world for potential geothermal power at 2,600 megawatts.
But where are the plants? Despite the vast energy potential of our country, we fail to maximize our natural resources. We are bound by laws such as the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA) which has pushed for the deregulation of the power industry. Under EPIRA, the government is impotent against the private sector when it comes to power generation.
Contrary to statements by nuclear proponents, reviving the BNPP will not lower electricity rates due to unfair provisions in the EPIRA that allows the monopoly of private corporations in the overall management and governance of the energy industry. This is manifested in the pass-on principle that did not result to lower energy costs. Furthermore, the social and environmental costs of nuclear energy is not compensatory to the utilization of such energy resources.
Hence, reviving the issue of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is also reliving the Marcos era of tyrannical rule where public utilities such as the power industry are being run by private entities. It is not a question of supply and the technology but of who has control over the energy source. As long as the power industry is privatized, we are under the whim of corporations which operate to maximize profit with no significant benefits for the large number of consumers as has been the trend since the passage of EPIRA fifteen years ago.
We call on the new administration to end the injustices from the Marcos time that continuously haunt the Filipino people until now. EPIRA should be repealed and replaced by a law that will nationalize the power industry. Only when the power industry is monopolized by a government that seeks to serve the needs of its people can we maximize our resources, lower electricity rates, and pave the way for the development and progress of this country.#