Senator Ralph Recto has opposed the use of the P188 billion unspent government shares from the Malampaya funds and other energy projects to finance the restarting of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).
The Senate Minority leader said that there should be “no funding pipeline from Malampaya to the Bataan Plant.”
The Malampaya funds, however, may be used “to partially finance an independent scientific study on the economic and technical feasibility of completing the plant.”
”It could be up to study only, but not restarting. Even using the funds to study its viability should be scrutinized carefully,” Recto said.
Recto said that the Department of Energy is allowed – under a special provision in next year’s budget – to tap P1.52 billion in off-budget accounts for “energy resource development and exploitation programs.”
The P1.52 billion shall be taken from “pooled fees and revenues” from ongoing energy production projects, including Malampaya gas field off northern Palawan – the biggest in the projects.
DOE has a proposed budget of P1.1 billion for 2017.
In mid-November, DOE secretary Alfonso Cusi said that President Duterte has given the go signal to rehabilitate the mothballed BNPP.
“I gave him assurance that we will not do it recklessly – the security on the use of nuclear and safety in the event of [a calamity]. We are going to follow the strict measures of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency),” Cusi said.
Recto earlier said that the decision to rehabilitate the BNPP must come from scientists “based on an unassailable study whose conclusion is that a dead plant can be safely resurrected beyond reasonable doubt.”
“It should be a science-based decision, and not because someone has a ‘light bulb’ moment and then immediately orders that the plant be switched on,”
Recto also said that an economic study is also needed.