Filipino bishop sounds nuclear alert on Marcos power aims – UCA News

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Balanga prelate warns president-elect of fierce opposition to any bid to revive mothballed power station

Filipino bishop sounds nuclear alert on Marcos power aims – UCA News
A security guard walks in front of the main gate of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant on April 5

A security guard walks in front of the main gate of Bataan Nuclear Power Plant on April 5. (Photo: AFP)

By Joseph Peter Calleja

Published: June 03, 2022 09:28 AM GMT

A Catholic diocese in the Philippines has reiterated its opposition to any attempts to revive the country’s first-ever nuclear power plant built by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr.

Balanga Diocese in Bataan province, where the plant is located, said it feared for the public’s safety if the plant was allowed to become operational.

“Our pastoral statement of No to BNPP (Bataan Nuclear Power Plant) rehabilitation stands,” Bishop Ruperto Santos of Balanga told Radyo Veritas on June 3.

The bishop was responding to reports that President-elect Ferdinand Marcos Jr. plans to revive the power plant during his first year in office.

Marcos Jr. has said the Philippines should explore alternative sources of energy to support the government’s plan for economic development.

“Our vision for the country is to have at least one nuclear power plant so we can finally produce cheap energy,” he told reporters on June 1.

“President Duterte has already laid down a good springboard for the next administration to pursue its nuclear energy objectives”

He cited an order signed by outgoing President Rodrigo Duterte laying the foundations for the next administration to revive the nuclear plant.

“President Duterte has already laid down a good springboard for the next administration to pursue its nuclear energy objectives,” Marcos Jr. said.

However, Bishop Santos said his diocese remained committed to opposing the nuclear power plant.

He was reiterating the stance set in 2009 by his predecessor, Socrates Villegas, the current archbishop of Lingayen-Dagupan, who also expressed fears the plant could be a danger to the public.

The danger from a natural disaster such as an earthquake was used to justify these fears. 

His call was supported by the bishops’ conference, which unsuccessfully sought the dismantling of the power plant to stop attempts to revive it.

“They should focus on renewable energy like wind power in Ilocos Norte province. So, why not promote that?”

Bishop Santos claimed Marcos Jr. was likely looking to finish something that his father started.

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant was built during the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. but it never went into operation in 1986 as a result of political upheavals and fears raised by the aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, he said.

Bishop Santos said the cost of reviving the plant could instead by used for developing safer, cleaner and renewable energy sources.

“They should focus on renewable energy like wind power in Ilocos Norte province. So, why not promote that?” he said.

Bangui Wind Farm in Marcos Jr.’s political stronghold north of Manila uses high-powered wind turbines, arranged in a single row stretching along a 9-kilometer shoreline facing the West Philippine Sea. It produces most of the province’s electric supply.

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