MANILA, Philippines – Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto on Saturday, November 12, said the government should consult scientists and not bureaucrats on the proposed revival of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
"It should be a science-based decision, and not because someone has a 'lightbulb' moment and then immediately orders that the plant be switched on," Recto said in a statement.
Recto issued this statement after media reports said President Rodrigo Duterte recently allowed the rehabilitation of the BNPP. Earlier, Duterte dismissed the idea of using nuclear energy during his term though his spokesperson, Ernesto Abella said the administration was considering it.
The $2.3-billion plant, built in Bataan province during the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, has been a subject of controversy for decades.
The plant was built under Marcos to help meet energy needs following the oil price shocks of the 1970s.
But after Marcos was toppled in the People Power Revolution in 1986, the government of president Corazon Aquino refused to use it.
'Powerful spotlight' needed
On Saturday, Recto pointed out, "We paid almost P70 billion ($1.4 billion) for an overpriced plant that never produced a single watt of electricity."
"If restarting the plant would require another P50 billion ($1.02 billion), then it is but proper that all financial transactions related to the project must be placed under the glare of a powerful spotlight," he added.
The senator also urged the government to do the following:
Recto said the government should hear informed voices on the issue before it "makes firm orders and commitments." – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
*$1 = P49.08
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.