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Philippines eyes investments on modular nuclear plants from US companies

The Philippines is looking at possible investments from US companies on the setting up of modular nuclear power plants in select areas in the country, Trade and Industry Secretary Alfredo Pascual said Thursday evening.

Speaking to reporters at the Philippine Economic Briefing in New York, Pascual said President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. met with at least three companies that can provide “modular nuclear power plants" in the country.

One of them is the US-based NuScale Power, the official confirmed.

“It's a company that's into the deployment of what we call modular reactors. It was small-scale. We're just making some calculations that probably one island in the Philippines like Palawan can be provided with one modular reactor,” Pascual said.

“But there's another fact, two outfits that we met that are into nuclear reactors, both can do modular reactors and the bigger ones,” he added.

Pascual did not name the other companies, saying he doesn’t want to “tie them down” as they have yet to make a formal commitment on their investments in the Philippines.

At a press conference after Marcos' bilateral meeting with US President Joe Biden, Press Secretary Trixie Cruz-Angeles said there were "serious talks" on the development of nuclear energy in the Philippines during the meeting with American companies.

"I’m not sure kung maka-characterize pa siya as exploratory but there are certainly serious talks about it," she said.

Citing Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla, the press secretary said that the Philippine government is expediting the crafting of a regulatory framework on nuclear energy as this would need the legislature's approval.

"Ang sinasabi kasi ni Secretary of Energy Raphael Lotilla is that minamadali natin ‘yung tinatawag na ‘yung regulatory framework for that kasi wala pa ngayon and that will require legislation," she said.

"However, ‘pag ginawang priority ‘yan hindi naman natin nakikita na maaantala ang investments in nuclear energy," she added.

Last month, Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez said the US has offered the power plants and that it is being developed “rapidly.”

The President has previously expressed his desire to adopt nuclear energy as part of the country’s power mix.

Marcos earlier in the day met with Biden on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York where they were expected to discuss the state of the global economy and how it's impacting the Philippines, the South China Sea, the security relationship between the US and the Philippines and the full breadth of issues in the alliance.

Marcos, together with the Philippine delegation, left Manila on Sunday for a working visit to the US and will be back in the Philippines on September 24.—with Hana Bordey/LDF/VBL, GMA News