The members of the Association of Lady Legislators commemorated the 100 years of International Women’s Day with a photo exhibit that was held at the South Wing lobby of the House of Representatives on March 14, 2011. After the exhibit’s opening ceremony, Pangasinan 5th District Lady Representative, Kimi S. Cojuangco, presided at the plenary as part of the lady legislators taking the congressional helm in celebration of International Women’s Day. Lower House Speaker, Feliciano Belmonte, Jr., acquiesced to the lady legislator in honor of the celebration of the Women’s Month.
Concerns that were mostly related to women’s rights were the main context of all the speeches given by the lady legislators who ruled the entire session’s activities. When Congresswoman Cojuangco alighted from the Speaker’s chair when her turn came to deliver her privilege speech, stillness filled the plenary immediately as she stepped behind the podium; excepting her rational discourse reverberating inside the hall, not a pin-drop was heard. All seemed to know what her theme would be; expectant of the enlightenment she might say of the current crisis in Fukushima, Japan that is apparently hurting her proposed bill, the re-validation of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) in Morong, Bataan.
Let us hear it from her:
House of Congress
March 14, 2011
REP. ALVAREZ (M.). Madam Speaker, I move that the Honorable Kimi S. Cojuangco of the Fifth District of Pangasinan be recognized to avail of the Privilege Hour.
THE PRESIDING OFFICER (Rep. Herrera-Dy). The Honorable Kimi Cojuangco is recognized. We still have a long roster of speakers for the day. May we request that the subsequent speeches be limited to three minutes.
The Honorable Cojuangco is recognized.
PRIVILEGE SPEECH OF REP. COJUANGCO (K.)
REP. COJUANGCO (K.). Madam Speaker, first of all, allow me to express my deepest sympathies for all the people of Fukushima, Sendai and Japan. Theirs must be an unbearable burden.
As you know, questions about the safety of nuclear power have been raised by this event.
In this context since I am the principal author of House Bill No. 1291, allow me to say the following:
That it is impossible to debate this matter intelligently, absent credible information and the details of: what has really happened, what is the extent of the damage, how many were hurt, what are the implications of this event on nuclear power plant operational rules and procedures, what are the cost implications of this, and the like.
Sensitivity to the people’s concerns, apprehensions, and anxiety are also in order.
Therefore, I hereby declare, that I am imposing upon myself a temporary moratorium in pushing House Bill No. 1291, and our advocacy, until the facts are clear.
Contrary to the news reports, at this point in time, there is no damage to Fukushima’s containment structures. As such, will the disasters predicted really occur? We don’t know.
BNPP is a much better plant than Fukushima.
Fukushima is a Boiling Water Reactor. It was designed and built in the late ’60s, early ’70s. BNPP is a Pressurized Water Reactor. It was designed and built in the late ’70s, and early ’80s.
By far, PWRs, although slightly less efficient than BWRs, are the choice type of plant, when safety is taken into account.
Unlike BWRs, PWRs have a double cooling system which does not allow reactor steam to reach its turbines, part of the problem at Fukushima right now. Fukushima is not Chernobyl. It will never be Chernobyl, because of containment. This will remain true, even if a full meltdown were to occur.
In the 14th Congress, during my husband’s debates with Congressman Golez, a copy of the transcript which I have here dated Wednesday, November 11, 2009, my husband has always said that should BNPP ever fail, an unlikely event, its mode of failure would be a meltdown, but, that it would be safe because of containment. So far, this seems to be what is happening in Fukushima.
Make no mistake, should the containment at Fukushima fail (not counting venting, which is part of remedial measures of a BWR) then I will immediately withdraw my House bill, House Bill No. 1291, and our advocacy.
What is sad to me is that the Philippines could have lost the only viable alternative to fossil power, which is cheap, safe and reliable.
The implications of this to our future prosperity are sad(dening).
Will we be able to compete for fuel with the richer countries in the scramble for fossil fuel supplies should many countries turns their backs on nuclear energy?
As has happened before, there will be those countries which will stick to their guns. These countries have a lot to show for by having done that. There will be those countries that turn their backs. Today, they have a lot less energy independence and high costs.
Which type will we be? Could history not teach us a lesson here?
Dear colleagues, God, from time to time, sends us challenges, I believe for two reasons — number one, for us to overcome the challenges; number two, or for us to be overcome by these challenges.
I believe that although, we, as mortals, may be overcome, it should never be by default or fear.
Let us understand the issue well, let us wait for the facts, let us debate, let us decide.
The BNPP and nuclear power issue is not the loss or gain of any politician. If the Philippines is denied nuclear power as a viable alternative, it is a loss of the people.
Thank you, Madam Speaker.