MANILA - The Philippines is looking at the possible inclusion of nuclear energy in its power generation mix as President Rodrigo Duterte sought a study on its viability while the country battles a global health crisis.
Duterte, in a July 24 executive order, formally directed the government to study the effects of harnessing nuclear energy, which has long been a divisive issue in the country due to safety concerns.
"There is an imperative need to revisit the country's policy on nuclear energy and to determine its feasibility as a long term option for power generation," the President said in the order.
The President signed Executive Order No. 116 on July 24 even while the country is grappling with controlling the spread of COVID-19.
The President also ordered the formation of a Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee, that will evaluate the need for and viability of introducing nuclear power into the state's energy mix with consideration of its implications to the economy, environment, and the country's security.
The body will be chaired by the Department of Energy along with the Department of Science and Technology.
It can be recalled that Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi has long been pushing for a nuclear power program, saying it could help address the long-term energy needs of the country.
Other members of the committee are the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, Department of the Interior and Local Government, Department of Finance, Department of Foreign Affairs, the National Economic and Development Authority, National Power Corporation, National Transmission Corporation, Philippine Nuclear Research Institute, and the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology.
The committee is required to submit a report to the President within six months.
Should the Philippines decide to harness nuclear energy, it may consider rehabilitating the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant, constructed during the administration of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos Sr. but mothballed after a change in the country's leadership and the devastating Chernobyl disaster.
Read President Duterte's full executive order below: