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(Statement of Rep. Edcel C. Lagman during the Hearing of the
Appropriations Committee on House Bill No. 4631 on 02 February 2009)

I respect the initiative of Rep. Mark O. Cojuangco in justifying the immediate rehabilitation, commissioning and commercial operation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP).

However, considering the ignominious past of the BNPP which earned it the moniker of the “Monster of Morong”; the scandal and bribery which surrounded its procurement and construction; the onerous and odious loan of $2.2 billion which financed the erection of the facility; the dubious safety of its location as it is perched on Mt. Natib, a dormant volcano, much like Mt. Pinatubo before its 1991 eruption, and along a fault line; and its subsequent mothballing for some “4,000 defects”, Rep. Cojuangco is correct that one of the reasons for his filing of House Bill No. 4631 is to “start or spark a national debate on the merits and demerits of nuclear power as a viable energy option”.

But to my mind, a nationwide discourse is imperative, not on nuclear power per se, but on the operation of the BNPP in particular as a nuclear facility.

There are a number of overriding questions which must be asked and accordingly unequivocally answered, like:

1.    Are there feasibility studies on the technical, engineering, financial, environmental and safety aspects of the proposed rehabilitation, commissioning and commercial operation of BNPP?

1(a)  If there are, where are they, who commissioned them and who are the experts and authorities who made the feasibility studies (it appears there are no current feasibility studies on the projected rehabilitation and commercial operation of the BNPP because Rep. Cojuangco talks about feasibility studies made before the construction of the BNPP)?

1(b)  If there are none, then why not convert the bill to one which authorizes and funds the requisite and a priori feasibility studies?

2.    Are the reasons for the mothballing of the BNPP adequately surmounted to justify its immediate rehabilitation, commissioning and commercial operation?

3.    Why “rehabilitation” which is a mere restoration of a facility to its original (possibly obsolescent state)? Why not an entirely new nuclear power plant of modern vintage?

4.    How accurate are the assumptions proffered by the author?

5.    Should BNPP be allowed to remain as a grim reminder of official and private greed and corruption?

This is one important measure where the appropriation has to be thoroughly justified by the substantial provisions of the bill and validated or disputed by competent authorities as resource persons.

The Committee on Appropriations is said to be the “most powerful” committee of the House. Consequently, it must never be a rubberstamp in the appropriation of public funds. The Committee must be assured that the expenditure of government money is thoroughly justified.