Reliving and Reviving ’85 Welgang Bayan: Move to Open Bataan Nuclear Plant Opposed

“Everything that I have worked for would be gone once the nuclear power plant starts operating,” Magpok said. Toxic waste materials generated by the power plant would be a big problem, he added.

Controversial Plant

The BNPP is a 620-megawatt light-water nuclear power plant that was constructed in 1977 on a 357-hectare facility in Morong. From a budget of $500 million, the overall construction cost ballooned to $2.3 billion. Marcos and his cronies allegedly made millions in kickbacks from Westinghouse, the US company that built the plant.

A huge chunk of the national budget had been allotted to the payment of the loan interest alone while the government had to spend about $1 million a year just to maintain the shuttered plants.

Reynato Magpok (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao /

The plant is one of the most controversial projects of Marcos. “The BNPP project is imbued through and through with fraud, deceit, bribery, overpricing, abuse of power, and violations and circumventions of proper procedures and legal requirements,” Ibon Foundation said in a report about the debts incurred because of the plant.

Before the People Power uprising that led to his ouster, the 1985 “welgang bayan” is said to be one of the biggest protest actions against the dictatorship.

Opposition to the BNPP is based on two grounds: the blatant corruption and overpricing, and the hazards of operating a nuclear power plant. The BNPP was built on top of Mt. Natib, a volcano. It is also vulnerable to earthquakes since it is near the Manila Trench, an earthquake fault.

The primer prepared by the Network Opposed to BNPP Revival, a multi-sectoral alliance that aims to stop the railroading of House Bill 6300 that seeks to revive the plant, revealed that an earthquake in the area would cause a spillage of the nuclear fuel, thereby generating harmful radioactivity that may be fatal to people.

Sister Guada Valdes OSB (Photo by Janess Ann J. Ellao /

The Arroyo regime is currently pushing for the revival the BNPP as a possible solution to the projected “energy crisis” in 2012.

To the Streets Once More

“My fear has been doubled because aside from myself, I now have a family to worry about,” Anoos told Bulatlat during the protest last week in Balanga.

He said his friends from the UP College of Engineering never expected the project to be revived because they know about the faults in the design of the nuclear power plant.

“I thought this ordeal is already over,” Sister Guada said. “Don’t they have compassion for the people? Who could possibly be so powerful that he or she would dare oppress the people of God?”

Anoos said the vested capitalist interests of the current administration are more obvious than Marcos’s. He said the revival of the BNPP would be a source of corruption for government officials spearheading the project.

If the people are not vigilant in confronting the issue, Sister Guada said, the BNPP could be revived. “We are afraid that not everyone knows about the hazards it brings so they did not come with us today,” she said.

“There is a need for an information dissemination campaign targeting schools and other significant organizations to educate them on the negative impact of the nuclear power plant,” Sister Guada said.

Indeed, Magpok, the farmer, rued the fact that the participants in the 1985 “welgang bayan” were far greater in number than those who attended the caravan and interfaith rally last week. But, showing the same determination he had 24 years ago, Magpok promised to “fight the revival of the BNPP up to my last breath.” (

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