Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (From Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Facebook)

A Department of Energy (DOE) official on Wednesday said the Philippines needed new legislation for it to build and operate a nuclear power plant as the law currently prohibits it.

“As of now, wala ho tayong kakayahan – ang gobyerno, na magpatayo ng nuclear power plant na conventional kasi po wala sa mandate ho ng ating Napocor (National Power Corporation) ngayon,” Energy Undersecretary Gerardo Erguiza Jr. said in a “Laging Handa” briefing.

“The Philippines is not ready at this point kasi dahil sa Electric Power Act ho, itong reform act or EPIRA – ang generation ho ng power ay binigay lahat sa private at tinanggal ho sa National Power Corporation which is a government-owned corporation to generate power,” he added.

To enable the government to operate nuclear power plants, Erguiza said there must be an amendment in the law to provide a regulatory framework for the operation of such establishments.

Just earlier this week, President Rodrigo Duterte made a fresh call for the next administration to consider the use of nuclear energy in the country again.

“It would be good for any government to prepare the possibility of making the transition earlier from oil ‘yung fossil fuel to nuclear kasi ang nuclear is forever,” he said.

Duterte also expressed optimism that the presumptive president, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., would explore the use of nuclear energy as his father, the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr., was behind the shut-down Bataan Nuclear Power Plant.

“I hope that the next administration would at least explore now the possibility of itong nuclear…Tutal ang nag-umpisa naman nito si Marcos noon,” he said.

The Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, which cost more than $2 million, was the country’s only nuclear power plant.

Completed under the Marcos regime, it was never fueled nor used due to safety concerns. After Marcos was overthrown and in the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant disaster, the succeeding administration of President Corazon Aquino mothballed the Bataan plant. John Ezekiel J. Hirro