Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Solon pushes agriculture modernization, revival of Bataan Nuclear Plant
By Rhaydz B. Barcia

LEGAZPI CITY, Aug. 23 (PNA) -- Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito stressed on the need to modernize agriculture by stopping smuggling and the use of nuclear power to address the country’s power needs during a recent visit here to hold a dialogue with the youth.

“We really need to modernize our agriculture but we need to cut on the smuggling first. Our agriculture is dying because of smuggling,” he told a press conference after the youth forum.

In same media conference, Ejercito talked on the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) which he said should be revived to address the country’s power needs.

The youth forum that delved on the Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) Reform Law was held at the Ibalong Conference Room at the Legazpi City Hall compound here.

Ejercito, who is chairperson of the economic affairs committee in the Senate, introduced Senate Bill 2923 which gives stricter penalties on the illegal importation of agricultural products.

He said the measure, which provides for a fine of “twice the fair market value of the smuggled product and its corresponding amount of taxes, duties and other charges,” will be of great help to the Filipino farmers.

The lawmaker said the government should subsidize Filipino farmers so they could compete with farmers in Thailand and Cambodia.

Ejercito said by helping the farmers make the prices of their produce become more competitive their families will be helped.

He said when the Filipino farmers become more productive, the country could attain food security even with the adverse effects of climate change.

On the BNPP, Ejercito said it was a Marcos project but it is “completely owned by the Filipino people.”

He said the BNPP will help solve the country’s energy requirements as it is a source of the “cheapest and cleanest energy.”

The BNPP's construction was done between 1976 and 1984 and payment was completed in 2007 but its operation was put on hold.

In a report in January this year, rappler.com said the country had completed payment of the US$ 2.3-billion debt that had been used to defray BNPP’s construction.

The same news organization said that when former president Ferdinand Marcos was deposed in 1986 and the government of Mrs. Corazon Aquino took over, assets of the nuclear power plant was transferred to the government but the latter did not operate it. In the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl accident in Russia, the BNPP has since been left in the backburner.

Ejercito said the BNPP was built similar to the world’s three running power plants--Angra I in Brazil, Krško in Slovenia and Kori II in South Korea.

“(South) Korea is now the top manufacturer in the world who has even surpassed Japan,” he said.

Ejercito said that by failing to operate the BNPP the government is unable to utilize the US$ 2-billion taxpayers’ money.

“If it will be utilized the cost of our electricity will drastically drop at P2 per kilowatt hour,” he said.

The BNPP has a 620-megawatt (MW) capacity that can supply 10 percent of the power requirement of the Luzon grid, said Ejercito.

He said the revival of BNPP could help the shore up energy requirements of the country which intermittently faces an energy crisis.

“It will cost about US$ 2 billion to revive it (BNPP) but the return of investment will be profitable,” Ejercito said.

Rappler.com, in its Jan. 10, 2016 report on the BNPP, said “for every year the matter sits in indecision alley, the government is spending P50 million (US$ 1.06 million) to maintain the mothballed plant.” The news organization was referring to the “matter” of whether to operate or not the power plant.

Despite endorsing its operation, Ejercito said that the “safety precaution must be followed” before the revival of BNPP.

Rappler. com said that since its near completion in 1984, the 31-year-old BNPP has lain dormant in a sprawling 389-hectare lot in Napot Point, Morong, Bataan. (PNA) LAP/GVR/RBB/CBD