By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.
QUEZON CITY – Pangasinan (2nd District) Rep. Mark O. Cojuangco on Friday (Nov. 24) justified the utilization of cheap, clean and reliable nuclear energy in light of the depleting fossilized fuels and the climate change brought about by global warming.
During the Pandesal Forum in the 84-year-old Kamuning Bakery & Café in Quezon City, Cojuangco said “Do not be misled when they talk about renewable and fossil fuel. Huwag tayong magpalinlang.”
Cojuangco, who is the Chairman of the House Special Committee on Nuclear Energy, said “in 20 hours of storage, multiples na ang investments required ikumpara mo sa nukleyar.”
An advocate of nuclear energy for the past 17 years, Cojuango said “Wala pa po doon ang inverter para umandar ang battery and batteries do not generate power. In fact, it consumes power. It consumes power but it does not generate power. We don’t need storage for batteries.”
Cojuangco was the only Filipino who was bestowed by the United States of America the Award of Best Public Servant for his advocacy for nuclear energy for the longest time.
“Yesterday, nagpahayag si US President Joe Biden, kasama nya ang France at Germany, na kailangan ng i-triple and nuclear power plants. There are 450 more or less nuclear power plants in the US. We are talking of 900 nuclear power plants,” Cojuangco said.
“Libo-libong Pilipinong manggagawa ang tumulong sa apat na nuclear power plants sa United Arab Emirates with a total of four nuclear power plants with 450 megawatts each for a total 12,500 megawatts. Ito mismong oil exporting country ay nag invest na rin sa nuclear energy,” he added.
“Recently, within the last three weeks, kinontrata ng China ang 50-taon production ng energy ng Qatar. They did the same thing with a big country with the United States for energy production for the next 20 years,” Cojuangco said.
“Magiging kulelat po tayo sa supply ng kuryente. We are at risk of losing the source of energy supply compared to such rich countries,” he added.
“I think bago matapos ang first quarter of 2024, sa Bangladesh with 1,200 megawatts katumbas ng 2 BNPP1,” Cojuangco said.
“Bangladesh will open its nuclear power plant this year. We ‘missed the boat’ in 1986 instead, it’s 55 percent coal and we are so dependent on importation,” he added.
“Since 1986, the BNPP1 dumaan sa March 1984, at Marso 1985 nabisita ng KepCo at pwede nang kargahan ng uranium,” Cojuangco said.
“US Ambassador Stephen Bosworth, na anti-Marcos, inabutan ng 1986 People Power Revolution and the rest is history,” he noted.
“Nang bumisita sa South Korea in 2019 at 2020 sa Board Room ng Kepko sa South Korea na nakita ang picture ni Bosworth na nag-iinaugurate ng Korean nuclear power plant,” Cojuangco said.
“As of August 2023, 2.12 billion US dollars, 699 million dollars ay interest galing sa bulsa natin, dahil hindi umaandar ang BNPP1,” he added.
“In six years of operation, nabayaran ng South Korea ang kanilang nuclear power plant. Ikunsider nyo po na ang BNPP2 ay may foundation na sa BNPP1 at gumawa ng daan at nuclear village sa Morong, Bataan. Dapat po nakargahan ng fuel ng June 1985. Dapat August 1985 dry run at commercial operation by February 1986 pero napulitika at di nagamit,” Cojuangco said.
Then President Corazon Cory C. Aquino issued an Executive Order stopping the operationalization of the BNPP1, and later on, passed on to the Filipino people the decision on whether or not to proceed with the operation of the BNPP1.
“Maybe, media was in error. What did we lose by not using the nuclear energy. Posible ba na 1 percent GDP for each GDP for the last 37 years. Ilang trilyong piso at ilang milyong trabaho ang nacreate,” Cojuangco said.
“Ang nangyari naging 55 percent coal po tayo ang pinakadeadly at pinakamapanganib. Napaiksi natin ang buhay ng libo-libong Bataaeno na wala sa inyong nagreklamo. Magiging zero po ang fatality sa nuclear kung di icoconsider ang Chernobyl nuclear power plant na walang containment na parang bilog na building may bakal sa loob ,” he added.
“Tsunami wave map and not radiation at hanggang ngayon maraming nagpupumilit na radiation at nasusunog na Cosmo oil refinery in Chiba,” Cojuangco said. He was referring to a “Noah’s Map” which was used by international news organizations as a map of a nuclear radiation incident.
“PNPP1 nuclear power plant dummy was used in the presentation in SM Aura which was the nuclear waste we were talking about. Pwedeng itago sa dry cask storage like in Switzerland. It has never harmed anyone. Konte lang ang nuclear waste,” he added.
“PNPP1 is a 100 percent complete well-built nuclear power plant and we have continuing power crisis,” Cojuangco said.
“The two entities which could make this Bataan Nuclear Power Plant run are the President of the Philippines through an Executive Order and the Congress of the Philippines through a legislative measure for the purpose of allowing the use of the BNPP,” he added.
Cojuangco cited that Labrador town in Pangasinan province is willing to host a nuclear power plant which will have 2 times the 2021 consumption for every consumption for the entire life of the nuclear power plant. If their request is granted, Labrador will have the “cheapest” electricity in the Philippines.
“From 2007 upto now, I’m saying that there is no technical reason why we should not run that nuclear power plant in Bataan although the people of Bataan wanted it but the leaders did not want it and then President Ferdinand E. Marcos, Sr, was ‘demonized’,” Cojuangco said.
“Ang gusto ng Presidente (PBBM) ay ang kagustuhan ay manggaling sa taong bayan. Hindi nya ipipilit ang nuclear energy sa taong bayan,” he added.
“Kung ang Pangasinan, Quezon, Isabela, Zamboanga del Sur, Sarangani, kung gusto nila sa nuclear power plant, dapat payagan sila para matuldukan ang problema sa kakapusan ng enerhiya o kuryente at mahal ang kuryente,” Cojuangco said.
Ang PhilATOM Bill (Philippine Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority) in the House of Representatives, 200 ang pabor, 7 ang kumontra at 2 ang nag-abstain na mambabatas sa third and final reading sa House of Representatives na kung saan 6 centavos per kilowatthour na idedeposito ng nuclear operator sa nuclear fund na aabutin ng bilyong piso pagkaraan ng maraming taon,” he added.
The proposed bill has 213 co-authors and if passed and enacted into law, the Implementing Rules and Regulations will be drafted by independent stakeholders and with due guidance from the International Atomic Energy Agency.
“Technically, the Philippine Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority will be under the Office of the President, who would have the option to appoint the Director General and the Deputy Director General of the PhilAtom,” Cojuangco said.
He said that the function of the Philippine Nuclear Research institute must not be the regulator and the promoter at the same time.
Nuclear waste is encased in dry cask for interim storage.
“Mas mura po ang kuryente sa neighboring countries natin hindi dahil sa may nuclear power plants sila kundi dahil mayroon silang indigenous power resources o vast gas reserves such as Indonesia,” Cojuangco said.
Nuclear energy is cheap electricity such that the 620 megawatts of power plant where Calaca coal power plant of 600 megawatts for Php33.6 billion or US$600 million wherein nuclear power in US is US$20 million or Php1.1 billion.
“According to the survey conducted during the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte, 79 percent of all Filipinos want nuclear energy dahil hindi na nila matiis ang taas ng kuryente,” Cojuangco said.
“We will convince them not with fake news but with numbers just like what Bill Gates did,” he said.
“It is ironic that mauna pa ang ibang probinsya when in fact nandyan na ang BNPP1. By 2045, there should be 16 nuclear power plants so that 16,000 megawatts of electricity will be generated in the country,” he added.
“Ang bureaucrats lalo na sa DOE (Department of Energy), they are afraid to think out of the box because of their job. Cojuangco has written 10 “incontrovetible benefits” of nuclear energy to the DOE but to no avail,” Cojuangco said.
“Nobody is telling about the story on the deadly coal. There is a sea change of attitude toward nuclear energy such that the Nuclear Energy will be included in the Green Energy, especially in Europe,” he said.
“Pumirma si President Bongbong Marcos sa ‘123 agreement’ with America. Article 123 of the 1954 Atomic Energy of America na nagsasabi na hindi pwedeng magpahayag ng nuclear energy na walang kontrata sa isang bansa. ‘123’ is the Intellectual Property Rights of the United States,” he added.
Cojuangco noted that the vendor countries such as Japan, Korea, China, Russia, France, Canada, Australia, Kazakshtan, Argentina and the United Kingdom ay nagbebenta ng uranium for nuclear power plant. Their reactors are very much the same with that of the BNPP1.
“America is not the only vendor. There is no need for a concurrence of a treaty in the Senate because it is a departmental agreement. The DOE, through the Department of Foreign Affairs, will write to its counterpart to a vendor country for the purpose of securing an agreement with them,” he said.
The coal consumption worldwide has helped global warming.
“Nuclear Reliability Act ay pumasa na sa House Committee pero ibinalik dahil mayroon pang babaguhin, Nuclear Power Incentives Act ay pino-propose pa rin sa House of Representatives,” Cojuangco said.
“Wala pong dahilan na teknikal na kung bakit di dapat gamitin ang nuclear plant sa Morong, Bataan. Ang Presidente lamang po ang may kapangyarihan na ‘i-overwrite’ ang gusto ng lokal sa Bataan at pwede rin sa pamamagitan ng isang plebisito,” he added.
Cojuangco said that with nuclear energy, electricity consumption will be less than half of the current prices of fossil fuels, adding that, Japan has more than 50 nuclear power plants. 50 percent of all their (Japan) energy is nuclear by 2050. South Korea has 19, Taiwan has 4, China has 55, 22 of which are under construction by 2030. Bangladesh has two, India has 19, Pakistan has four. Indonesia is also pursuing nuclear energy.
He challenged all the media practitioners to “soul-search” and “reframe the story of nuclear energy” based on evidence and not on hearsay.
“Umiiksi po ang buhay dahil sa fossil fuel na oil, coal at gas. 20 to 30 million dollars lang kung nuclear. Kung gusto natin na bumaba ang kuryente na less than 50 percent of the current prices ay dapat magnuclear na tayo,” Cojuangco said.
“Nasubukuan na ang lahat ng paraan ng paglikha ng kuryente sa nakalipas na 37 years at tanging nuclear energy lang ang mura, malinis at reliable. Hindi tayo dapat magpaalipin sa kuryente. Dapat alipinin natin ang kuryente. Nuclear na,” he added.
Gail Certeza, lead convenor of Alpas Pilipinas, said “Our advocacy is nuclear energy education. Magbigay ng Basic 101 sa Nuclear energy. I am a civilian in nuclear energy is as simple as it gets and as understandable as it gets.”
Top 10 questions on nuclear energy such as Alpas Pilipinas is the country’s leading organization for educating and advocating nuclear energy.
Alpas Pilipinas, a non-profit non-government organization, meets with grass-roots stakeholders pertaining to nuclear energy. Media is the gate-keeper of information. We really take time to talk to media.
“The media is the ambassadors of nuclear energy as you are the gate-keeper on what we have missed out. People are waiting for you to tell the nuclear story,” Certeza said.
How energy is generated in the Philippine? 55 percent coal, 20 percent gas, geothermal 13 percent, hydrothermal 11 percent, 0il is 7 percent, wind is 1 percent, among others.
“We are fuel fossil dependent as 75 percent of fuel to generate electricity are fossil fuel such as coal, gas and oil. US5.4 billion coal production of US and the imported coal for 2022 was at Php297 billion for the Philippines,” Certeza said.
“Renewable energy is such that the wind and solar are by nature sporadic, unreliable. No solar at night. Wind does not blow all the time. What would have happened to us if we opened the first nuclear power plan?” she added.
Bill Gates invested US$1 billion in renewables. The BNPP1 was supposed to be the first nuclear power plant in Southeast Asia.
As of 2009, there were 249 nuclear power plants around the world. The Philippine Nuclear Power Plant in Bataan was constructed in 1976.
“By nature, nuclear energy is very unique and it is dense kaya sya technology advance compared to coal, oil and gas. It is clean as clean as wind and solar and it can provide 24-hour energy. It is reliable,” Certeza said.
Certeza noted that 68 trillion watts of energy is consumed worldwide. As of 2005, less than 50 people died in the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. From 1986 to 2019, only 46 deaths were recorded in Chernobyl nuclear accident in contrast to the alleged millions of deaths earlier reported.
There was zero casualty or injury in the Fukushima nuclear incident which was due to earthquake and tsunami.
“10 to 15 percent ng sweldo natin ay ginagamit sa pambayad natin ng kuryente. Mahal po ang ating kuryente kumpara sa ibang bansa. The BNPP can still be operationalized to the present time,” Certeza said.
“The ‘economic miracle’ of Taiwan is dependent on nuclear energy. On the level of the Filipino families, it will help a lot. On the level of business, all the more,” she added.
Abby Astronomo, scientist of the Department of Science and Technology and FNRI, said that the United States has 19 nuclear power plants, China has more than 50 nuclear power plants.
“In fact, we visited Slovenia in 1987. Nuclear power plant can be operational for 50 years and beyond. Kasi po ang nuclear power plants ay parang sasakyan na may iba’t-ibang design at components,” Astronomo said.
“Kasya po sa isang maliit na container kapag pinagsama-sama ang lahat ng nuclear waste ng lahat ng nuclear power plants sa buong mundo,” she added.
Astronomo also announced that this year, the “51st Atomic Energy Week” will be observed in the first week of December with 600 local and international school participants.
‘As a government agency, we are advocating for nuclear energy for the last 50 years,” Astronomo said.
Meanwhile, Senator Francis Tolentino has filed Senate Bill No. 1194 an Act providing for a comprehensive nuclear energy in the Philippines.
It’s possible that in the coming weeks, a hearing will be called out in the Senate in connection with nuclear energy in the country.- By Perfecto T. Raymundo, Jr.