Duterte to consult Cabinet on nuclear agreement with Russia

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 06 October) – President Rodrigo Duterte will consult members of his Cabinet concerning the agreement that the Philippines signed with Russia to explore the possibility of constructing nuclear power plants here.

Duterte told reporters in a press conference shortly after his arrival from a five-day official visit to the Russian Federation that the agreement signed between two countries was a “broad outline and nothing specific yet,” and that he has to consult his cabinet secretaries to factor in the issues on constitutionality that may arise from the possible construction of nuclear technology.

President Rodrigo Duterte answers questions during a press conference upon his arrival in Davao City on Sunday, 06 October 2019) from Russia. MindaNews photo

“The constitution does not, would not like it. It is prohibited. That’s why, I have to talk to the government. I cannot affirm nor deny that because it is part of the proposals. The hardline would come after I shall have consulted everybody concerned, including the people of the industry affected. If it’s food, then it’s agriculture, if it’s energy, then secretary (Energy Secretary Alfonso) Cusi,” he said.

He added he would particularly consult his administration’s legal team, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra “because if there is something in the agreement that will require the consent of congress then you have to go to Congress” to argue the executive body’s position on nuclear power.

“Solar is very expensive. It is not a guarantee that it can solve our needs, that our needs can be met by this kind of arrangement. Kung kaya lang eh di matagal na natin ginawa yan (if it could, we would have done that a long time ago),” he said.

He said he would decide “what is to the best interest of the country, that is the number one rule there, profit that is second, or whose favor and what company, that will come last.”

The President announced that he came back from Russia with 620 million pesos in business deals signed between the two countries.

“We reaffirmed Philippines’ strong commitment to robust and comprehensive partnership with the Russian Federation on the basis of mutual respect trust and pragmatism and working with Russia we have achieved much,” Duterte said.

In his bilateral meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Duterte said they agreed to “broaden and deepen our ties in our areas of cooperation, from security and defense, to trade, and investment, agriculture, energy, science and technology, socio cultural exchanges.”

“We signed bilateral cooperation agreements on the peaceful use of energy, scientific research, health, culture, and foreign policy consultations. These areas are important and therefore part of our comprehensive roadmap to build a partnership with different and to secure the Philippines strategic interest,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)