Statement of Energy Secretary Raphael P.M. Lotilla on the Enduring Philippine-US Cooperation on Harnessing Civilian Nuclear Power for Sustainable Development Following the Signing of the 123 Agreement on 16 November 2023 (US Pacific Time)

A decade after the first atomic bomb devastated Hiroshima, the Philippines under President Ramon Magsaysay joined in 1955 the Atoms for Peace Program initiated by US President Dwight Eisenhower. Building on this foundation, the succeeding administration led by President Carlos García established in 1958 the Philippine Atomic Energy Commission. President Diosdado Macapagal, in turn, initiated in 1963 the pre-investment study for a nuclear power plant in Luzon. 

The pace of Philippine nuclear power development efforts stepped up under President Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. with the signing of a new Philippine-US Agreement for Cooperation Concerning Civil Uses of Atomic Energy on 13 June 1968. This Agreement superseded the 1955 Agreement [(as amended in 1960, 1963 and 1966)], and, for the first time, explicitly referred to the design, construction and operation of power-producing reactors and research reactors. Three days after, the Philippine Congress approved [Republic Act No. 5207,] the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act. In 1971, the National Power Corporation was authorized by law to establish and operate nuclear power plants. 

The rest is more recent history. A nuclear power plant was built but never operated. The Philippine decision was nevertheless followed by an orderly and safe cessation of activities. More importantly, the 1987 Philippine Constitution remained open to all peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Under the leadership of President Ferdinand Marcos, Jr., the negotiation of the present agreement with the US was made possible, its predecessor agreement having expired in 1998. Every step of the way, the Agreement recognizes adherence to standards and safeguards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Beyond nuclear power applications to combat climate change, the new Agreement facilitates bilateral cooperation in a wide array of other peaceful uses of atomic energy all supportive of various Sustainable Development Goals including plant breeding, livestock production, insect pest control, soil and crop management, water use efficiency, plastic waste disposal, food safety, health and medicine. 

We would like to express therefore our sincerest gratitude to President Marcos, Jr. for his support and to the two countries respective negotiating teams for successfully concluding the negotiations leading to the signing of this 123 Agreement. ###