President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the development of the Philippines' nuclear energy program to support the country's growing power demands as the government looks to reduce dependency on coal power.
Duterte, in an executive order, said the Philippines sees nuclear power as a "viable component" to address the gap between energy demand and supply along with other alternative energy resources.
"The competitive position of nuclear energy is recognized and the experience of highly developed countries shows that nuclear power can be a reliable, cost-competitive and environment-friendly energy source," Duterte said in his order signed Feb. 28 but made public only on Thursday.
Duterte's order however was met with immediate criticism from environmental group Greenpeace, which warned of risks related to the use of nuclear energy. It instead called for a focus on energy policies grounded on accessible and renewable energy.
"Instead of responding with urgency, the government is exposing us to greater risks," Greenpeace Campaigner Khevin Yu said in a statement.
"Current and future generations will be left to face the dangerous risks of harnessing nuclear energy, along with the impacts of the climate crisis," Yu added.
As per Duterte's order, the government will study and develop nuclear energy plans and ensure its "peaceful use".
It will also assess the viability of using the three-decade-old Bataan nuclear plant built during the regime of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose son, Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., is running for president in the May 9 elections.
The power plant, central to the Philippines' nuclear power ambition, was completed in 1984 but was mothballed following Marcos' ouster in 1986 and the deadly Chernobyl nuclear disaster the following year.