By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos
MANILA – President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Friday (Manila time) expressed elation over the signing of the much-awaited “123 Agreement” on nuclear cooperation between the governments of the Philippines and the United States.
This was after Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken signed the nuclear cooperation agreement that will facilitate the collaboration between the two countries on technical exchanges, scientific research, and initiatives to ensure the safe operation of nuclear power installations.
The agreement was signed on the sidelines of Marcos’ participation in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit in San Francisco, California.
“I am most pleased to be here today to join you this afternoon to witness another milestone towards a more energy-secure and green Philippines,” Marcos said, noting that the move was in line with his plans to ensure an “affordable, reliable, and sustainable energy supply” for the Philippines.
Marcos expressed optimism that the signing of the nuclear deal would encourage more foreign investors to pursue nuclear power projects in the Philippines.
The nuclear power cooperation, he said, would enable the country to meet its growing energy demands and provide a “more investor- and consumer-friendly environment.”
“The signing of the Philippines – United States Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy or the 123 Agreement is the first major step in this major regard, taking our cooperation on capacity-building further and actually opening the doors for US companies to invest and participate in nuclear power projects in the country,” Marcos said.
The 123 Agreement will establish a legal framework that allows the export of nuclear fuel, reactors, equipment, and special nuclear material from the US to the Philippines.
The agreement will allow the Philippines to use US nuclear technology, not for war, but for energy security and climate goals.
The President noted that apart from the 123 nuclear deal, Meralco and Ultra Safe Nuclear Corp. also signed a cooperation agreement to undertake a Pre-Feasibility Study on Micro-Modular Reactors (MMRs) to explore clean and sustainable energy options in the country.
Under the agreement, a feasibility study will be conducted for the potential deployment of MMRs to Meralco sites to enforce the sustainable energy agenda and provide affordable and dependable access to power, particularly to the underserved and off-grid areas for economic empowerment.
“I know our companies are eager to advance discussions on potential projects. Just yesterday, the MOU (memorandum of understanding) between Meralco and Ultra Safe Nuclear Cooperation was also presented to me. So, I believe congratulations are in order for the work of our respective negotiating teams, especially to the team from the United States,” Marcos said.
“I look forward to seeing this agreement in action in the years to come. Nuclear energy is one area where we can show that the Philippines-US alliance and partnership truly works, for our peoples, our economies, and the environment.”
Marcos is also expecting the inclusion of nuclear power in the Philippine energy mix by 2032, saying he would be “more happy to pursue this path with the United States as one of our partners.” (PNA)