CHOOSE THE LORD! REJECT EVIL!
Pastoral Statement on the Proposal to Operate the
Bataan Nuclear Power Plant
Many people remember Bataan because of the Second World War. In fact, our country commemorates each year on April 9 the Fall of Bataan in the hands of the Japanese forces in 1942. In the past students in our schools were required to learn to heart the literary piece Bataan Has Fallen by Salvador P. Lopez, as a way of fostering civic duty and love of country.
SYMBOL OF EVIL
More than twenty years ago, Bataan once again became known because of the nuclear power plant that was built in the town of Morong. This nuclear power plant became the most visible and flagrant symbol of corruption in government, especially as practiced by the Marcos administration. Today it stands as a mute witness of this abominable greed and corruption and as reminder to all Filipinos that such deeds that only bring untold suffering should never again be foisted on our country.
Today our country’s leadership has floated the idea of reviving this monument of greed and incompetence in an effort to address the global energy crisis. This move follows what is being seen as the increasing incidence of unbridled and shameless graft and corruption that the country had in the 70’s and 80’s. They are twins born three decades apart.
THREAT TO HUMAN BEINGS
The Bataan nuclear power plant has long been declared UNSAFE for two reasons that are impossible to refute:
First, the power plant was built at an area at the foot of the dormant volcano Mount Natib and any volcanic eruption or earthquake can pose fatal hazards to the lives of millions in Central Luzon and Metro Manila. If the Bataan Nuclear Plant had been operational at the time of the eruption of the Mount Pinatubo, the devastation would have been tremendously incalculable and unimaginably catastrophic.
Second, the construction of the plant was attended by numerous irregularities among the contractors, especially on the part of the government, sacrificing safety, quality and rigidness of methods and materials. None of those involved in the construction of the nuclear power plant could give an assurance that they complied with internationally acceptable standards. In fact, some of our fishermen in Morong were hired as welders during its construction without any briefing on safety and the hazards that their carelessness could result in.
MORE TRAGIC THAN WAR
If the national government will operate the Bataan nuclear power plant, the Fall of Bataan in 1942 will pale in comparison. In a matter of time, the world could be remembered with “Bataan Has Exploded” in a more sensational was than “Bataan Has Fallen.” Should the nuclear power plant constructed on the Bataan peninsula, a peninsula lying on a major earthquake fault, be made operational, a nuclear accident will be a tragedy just waiting to happen to plunge the nation into a disaster in the likes of Chernobyl.
LEGACY OF GOOD NOT EVIL
We therefore appeal to the national leadership to look beyond the present energy crisis and see the adverse effects of nuclear power on the rest of the world. Until now there is no safe and permanent technology for the disposal of radioactive waste materials from nuclear power plants in First World countries. Radioactive waste is a perennial threat to our people. Nuclear garbage is radioactive for thousands of years and can cause harm to our children for hundreds of years to come. Will this be the legacy we shall leave behind?
It threatens to destroy the marine life around the Bataan Peninsula because of the heat that nuclear power plants discharge into the ocean. Hot waste water will destroy our fish and prevent the normal development of fish eggs. Is this what we want for our children?
Do we imperil the future of our children—and our land—for the slight comfort of having low cost electricity now?
As Christian disciples, we must support and help in the progress of people. Our support for human development is a mandate of our Christian witnessing in the world. Progress and development are not absolute goals that must be attained at all cost. We are only stewards not owners. We must be responsible stewards not hirelings.
The issue of the Bataan nuclear power plant must be faced with the heart and eyes of the Gospel. If Jesus were in Bataan, I am sure the good Lord will oppose it. Let us choose the way of Jesus. The way of Jesus is the way of responsible stewardship of creation. Jesus wills the path of development that is truly human--protecting humanity, caring for humanity, saving humanity. Let us choose the way of the Lord.
From the Cathedral of Saint Joseph, Balanga City, July 7, 2008
+SOCRATES B. VILLEGAS
Bishop of Balanga