Philippines-US relations

DOJ clears way for possible ratification of landmark PH-US nuclear deal

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DOJ clears way for possible ratification of landmark PH-US nuclear deal

SEALED DEAL. Philippine Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken hold up the 123 Agreement that they had just signed in San Francisco, California, on November 17, 2023.

Screengrab from RTVM

The Department of Justice says provisions of the 123 Agreement are not in conflict with existing laws, as well as pending nuclear-related bills before Congress

MANILA, Philippines – A landmark agreement concerning the cooperation between the Philippines and the United States on “peaceful uses of nuclear energy” is closer to possible ratification as the Department of Justice (DOJ) said it does not violate any existing laws. 

“Considering the foregoing, it is clear that this bilateral accord does not preclude the application of the national laws of the parties, especially of the Philippines, but rather gives way to their enforcement instead,” a legal opinion signed by Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla stated. 

The deal – also called the 123 Agreement – was signed in November 2023 after a year of negotiations. 

During the signing at the sidelines of the APEC Summit in California, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the deal would allow his country “to share equipment and material with the Philippines as they work to develop small modular reactors and other civilian nuclear energy infrastructure. 

In its legal opinion that was requested by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), the DOJ said that the implementation of the deal can be covered by the existing Republic Act No. 5207 or the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968, and is complemented by other existing laws.

Provisions of the 123 Agreement “are not in conflict with aforementioned existing laws, as well as pending nuclear-related bills before Congress,” the DOJ said.

It also pointed out the similar agreement that the Philippines has with Canada that took effect in 1983. Both agreements, DOJ said, “similarly cover the safe and secure use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes while parties undertake to transfer information, nuclear material, equipment, and  components directly or through  authorized persons.”

The difference, however, is that the Canada deal was entered into under the 1973 Constitution and has provisions that can only take effect once ratified. – 

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