Pacquiao prefers floating nuke plants over BNPP revival


With no intention to revive the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP), presidential candidate Sen. Manny Pacquiao is looking to tap into floating nuclear power plants to help improve the country’s power generation capacity. 

In a press conference, Pacquiao said that these floating nuclear plants – also known as nuclear barges – can help increase the country’s energy supply and at the same time, reduce the cost of electricity in the country. 

The world’s first floating nuclear plant, Akademic Lomonosov, is located in Russia’s Chukotka region. It has generated 47.3 million kilowatt-hours of power since being linked to the grid in 2019. 

The boxing icon-turned-politician has also called for the use of renewable energy sources. 

“Bibigyang pansin natin ang lahat ng mga puwedeng maging source ng enerhiya pero [pag-aaralan nang] mabuti para sa pagkakataong ito ay hindi na tayo kulangin sa ating power supply,” Pacquiao said. 

The senator also emphasized the need to review the Philippines’ energy policies, hitting previous administrations’ move in the privatizations of utilities – the power sector included. He particularly highlighted the country’s Php14 trillion debt due to “corruption and full dependence on tax revenues.” 

“Hindi ako pabor sa pagsasapribado ng public utilities habang panay ang utang natin. Dapat sana ay asset natin ang utilities dahil makakapag-generate ng revenue para sa gobyerno. Kaso mas naging polisiya ng gobyerno ang mangutang,” Pacquiao stressed. 

State-owned National Power Corporation’s (NAPOCOR) generation facilities and other properties have been undergoing privatization under Republic Act 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), enacted in 2001. 

EPIRA also stipulated the transfer of NAPOCOR’s transmission facilities’ operations to a private entity, which the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines took on in 2009. The government, though, has retained ownership of the transmission facilities through the National Transmission Corporation.

Last year, Pacquiao accused Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi of corruption, saying that the Department of Energy allowed the Independent Electricity Market Operator of the Philippines (IEMOP) to operate with insufficient capital. Cusi, IEMOP, and the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC) all countered Pacquiao’s punches. Pacquiao made the accusations at the height of the controversy surrounding administration party PDP-Laban.

PEMC is the governing body of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market, while IEMOP is its operator.

Meanwhile, rival Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. is seriously considering pushing for the revival of the BNPP – which was constructed during the regime of his father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr.

In a report by the Manila Bulletin, former congressman Jonathan De La Cruz – an adviser for Marcos Jr. – said that the dictator’s son has expressed his desire to revisit the BNPP issue for “cheap and baseload power for our communities.” De La Cruz added that reviving the BNPP would be a “big thing” as a facility has already been constructed. 

Marcos Jr. had called the BNPP’s mothballing a “political” decision, while describing nuclear energy as “clean” and “cost-efficient.” 

Earlier, Vice President Leni Robredo – who is also seeking the presidency – said she is open to discuss the use of nuclear power to boost the country’s energy sector. Some senatorial candidates have also expressed consideration in reopening the BNPP to avert an energy crisis. 

Photo from Manny Pacquiao Public Information Team