THE chairman of the Senate energy committee said the chamber’s funding support for developing a nuclear energy program, worth nearly P192 million since 2018, may be taken as “tacit” approval for government initiatives studying the use of the energy source.

“The allocation of these funds is tacit approval from the legislature that we should continue to look at nuclear power as a possible source of energy in our energy mix,” Sherwin T. Gatchalian, who chaired the Senate Committee on Energy, said on the first day of the Philippine Nuclear Research and Development Conference.

The Nuclear Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee is expected to submit its recommendations to President Rodrigo R. Duterte soon.

During his presentation, Mr. Gatchalian outlined the various allocations for the Department of Energy’s (DoE) nuclear energy program between 2018 and 2021. “We have already injected close to about P192 million; forty eight (million pesos) of which will come next year to DoE so that they can conduct their independent…research into nuclear power,” he said.

Mr. Gatchalian also reiterated his position that the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) not be revived because the Marcos-era project is “shrouded in a lot of controversy.”

The Philippines spends around P40 million a year to maintain the BNPP, Mr. Gatchalian said, adding that the cost could rise to P90 million next year for repairs.

“Next year, it will go up to P90 million because they have to repair ‘yung mga bubong (and) civil works (the roof and civil works),” he said.

He said the government is still trying to determine the best use for the BNPP. — Angelica Y. Yang