BNPP a martial law injustice that lives to this day
WITH THE 44th anniversary of the declaration of martial law in mind, we in Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People unite with all the victims of the abuses and injustices perpetrated by the Marcos regime. One that lives to this day is the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
In reaction to Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi’s statement that he is open to exploring the possibility of using nuclear power and the commissioning the BNPP to guarantee sufficient power supply for the coming generations, we reiterate our opposition to the use of the plant as a solution to the country’s worsening power crisis.
The BNPP is a martial law remnant. Started in 1976, its construction was completed in 1984. But it was never commissioned for commercial operations and was mothballed in 1986 following protests from different civil society groups concerned about its safety. This $2.3-billion project is widely seen as a product of crony corruption in the Marcos era.
Built on the slopes of Mount Natib, a dormant volcano complex, putting the BNPP in operation will not only put the communities around it in danger, it will also violate current International Atomic Energy Agency regulations on nuclear plant sites.
The plant’s obsolete technology will not meet the country’s growing demand. Its 620-megawatt capacity pales in comparison to the capacity of other energy sources available in our country, which can be developed with proper support and investment. Aside from traditional sources (e.g., oil, natural gas), we have renewable sources—geothermal, hydrothermal, solar and wind, etc. Hydropower plants alone can provide 13,000-MW; with our geothermal reserves, the second largest in the world, we can generate another 2,600 MW.
But we fail to make use of these potential energy sources. Blame the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) which has made possible the deregulation of the power industry. Under the Epira, the government is impotent against the private sector when it comes to power generation.
Contrary to the nuclear proponents’ claims, commissioning the BNPP will not lower electricity rates because of the Epira, which allows private monopoly of the overall management and governance of the energy industry. This is manifested in the pass-on principle that has failed to lower energy costs. Furthermore, the use of nuclear energy does not compensate for its social and environmental costs.
Operating the BNPP will only immortalize the corruption and tyranny of the Marcos era during which public utilities were run by private entities.
The issue is not about supply and technology but about who has control of the source. For as long as the power industry is in private hands, we will remain in the mercy of corporations driven primarily by the greed for maximum profit with no regard for the larger number of consumers, as has been shown in the 15 years of Epira’s existence.
We call on the Duterte administration: Write kaput to this Marcos injustice that is the BNPP, which until now haunts the Filipino people.
Also, replace the Epira with a law that will nationalize the power industry.
Only when the power industry is under government monopoly 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.
—GIOVANNI TAPANG, spokesperson, Network Opposed to the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant Revival (No to BNPP Revival!) and chair, Agham Advocates of Science and Technology for the People
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