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Don't Tear Down the Bataan Nuclear Plant Keep It as a Monument to Filipino Leaders

inally reading the news about it must have given many Filipinos pause. Aerial view of the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP)  complexThere it was: the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) would be sold for scrap! For over three decades this white elephant of Philippine political folly has cast its long dark shadow over a generation of Filipinos, most of whom are not even aware of its existence or that it is the cause of their poverty, their parent's poverty, and quite possibly the poverty of the children and grandchildren they have yet to have.

The Bataan Nuclear complex is being sold by the Arroyo government for scrap in the amount of for $2.859 million. This is the same plant that the dictator Ferdinand Marcos foisted to his subjugated people for the amount of $2.3 billion. An amount that Filipino taxpayers have been paying off to the tune of $155,000 a day for over twenty years. South Korea built a similar plant for a third of what Filipinos have paid and their plant continues to generate power to this day. But the saddest cut of all is the fact that the Bataan plant has not generated a single watt of electricity—ever!

$2.3 billion is equivalent to over P110 billion in today's exchange rate. Just think of how many schools could have been built with that money, or how many scholarships could have granted with it. Imagine the number of libraries that money could have created, or the number of low-cost houses that could have been made available to the poor. And if you can imagine the possibilities: the money we flushed down the toilet with this gargantuan boondoggle might have have funded the science education of a Filipino child who grows up to develop a cure for cancer. Instead that child today is probably driving a jeepney, or working as a domestic helper in some foreign land. If only we could turn back the clock!

Bataan Nuclear Power Plant (BNPP) cooling towerBut at the end of the day, we still must accept the fact that "what's done is done" and as the saying goes, there is no point in crying over spilled milk. But one thing we must do is learn from this mistake which cost us a heck of a lot of money. And one lesson we can take from this is: choose your leaders wisely. While Marcos initiated this hundred-billion-peso-fiasco and is thus primarily to blame, those who followed him from Cory Aquino to Gloria Arroyo, never vigorously pursued justice by getting to the bottom of why Filipinos have had to pay hundreds of billions of pesos for a nuclear power plant that in the past thirty years has generated less electricity than a fifty-cent triple-A battery.

Maybe the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant should not be torn down and sold for scrap after all. Maybe it should instead be turned into a monument to the stupidity and incompetence of Filipino leaders; with each new president-elect being required to tour the facility before taking office. Plus, if the Department of Tourism can offer guided tours to the general public, I'm sure that over time the place can earn more than the $2.859 million it is being sold for as scrap.

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