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Robredo: Cut dependence on coal before tapping nuclear power

DASMARIÑAS CITY, Cavite — Before turning to nuclear energy, presidential candidate and Vice President Leni Robredo said Friday the Philippines should reduce its reliance on coal in support of a worldwide campaign to address climate change.

While Robredo expressed an interest in having a discussion about nuclear energy, she said that the government has yet to develop a strategy for moving away from coal.

"While bukas tayo sa discussion [about] tapping nuclear energy, least of our priorities iyon dahil iyong priority talaga natin ngayon ay papunta na tayo sa COP 26 commitment, na carbon neutral na tayo by 2050," Robredo said.

(While I am open to discussions about tapping nuclear energy, that is the least of our priorities because our priority is our COP26 commitment to be carbon neutral by 2050.)

"Iyong roadmap sa pagiging carbon neutral natin, preference for indigenous sources of power, preference for renewable sources..dapat andito na tayo sa pagsulat ng milestones sa energy mix, dapat designed na iyong plano nito, kasi ngayon, wala pa tayong plano," she added.

(We should now be identifying milestones for these efforts in our energy mix on the roadmap to being carbon neutral, with a preference for indigenous sources of power and renewable sources, but there is no plan for this at this time.)

"Kung paano natin ireretire 'yung coal plants, wala pang roadmap. Magsishift ba tayo to liquefied natural gas, or shift to renewable? Wala pa yun. Dapat iyon ang tutukan natin," Robredo said.

(How would we phase out coal-fired power plants? Should we shift to liquefied natural gas or renewable energy? The master plan is still lacking, and we should concentrate on that.)

Robredo took the position days after President Rodrigo Duterte issued an executive order introducing nuclear power into the country's energy mix

Signed by Duterte on February 28, EO 164 states the government "will ensure the peaceful use of nuclear technology anchored on critical tenets of public safety, national security, energy self­-sufficiency, and environmental sustainability."

Duterte also ordered an inter-agency committee to study and make recommendations on the use and viability of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

"Totoo na magiging problema natin ang supply ng kuryente, pero with regards to BNPP, balikan natin bakit sa dami ng ginastos natin hindi natin nagamit kasi maraming problema," Robredo said.

(It's true that power supply is a problem we need to address, but with regards to BNPP, we should always remember that we spent so much on it and yet we were not able to use it due to many problems.)

The Philippines last ventured into a nuclear program in 1976, when then President Ferdinand Marcos ordered the construction of the BNPP.

The BNPP, which cost $2.3 billion to construct, was mothballed in 1986 because of safety concerns.  — VBL, GMA News