THE PHILIPPINES should develop renewable energy sources rather than nuclear energy since these are safer options for a country prone to natural disasters, a senatorial candidate said on Monday.

Human rights lawyer Jose Manuel “Chel” I. Diokno said in a statement that  “nuclear energy is not an option as it could put Filipinos in peril” given that the country is situated in earthquake and typhoon belts. 

President Rodrigo R. Duterte, who is stepping down by June 30, signed an executive order last week that includes nuclear power in the Philippines’ energy mix. 

“Look what happened to Japan. We cannot allow a disaster of such magnitude to happen here,” he said, referring to the 2011 Fukushima nuclear reactor accident. 

Mr. Diokno said the government should always prioritize the “safer, cleaner, and more affordable” option for Filipinos.

Citing the experience of developed economies, Mr. Duterte said nuclear power could be tapped as a viable alternative baseload source as the Philippines seeks to retire coal plants in line with its commitment to help limit climate change.

A sustainability think tank has said that the move is untimely as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has shown the risks of relying on imported fuel as well as nuclear energy. 

“It’s not wise to turn our energy sector more vulnerable than it already is to global shocks when we have an abundant supply of renewable energy just waiting to be developed,” CEED Executive Director Gerry C. Arances said in a statement over the weekend. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan