Those who voted for the JPEPA were Miriam Defensor Santiago, Manuel Roxas III, Edgardo Angara, Rodolfo Biazon, Alan Peter Cayetano, Jinggoy Estrada, Juan Ponce Enrile, Gregorio Honasan, Panfilo Lacson, Loren Legarda, Ramon ‘Bong’ Revilla Jr., Miguel Zubiri, Manuel Villar Jr., and Lito Lapid.
Only four senators voted against the approval of the treaty. They were Aquilino Pimentel Jr, Ma. Consuelo ‘Jamby’ Madrigal, Francis Escudero, and now president Aquino.
Filipinos in Japan
Bayan international desk officer Rita Baua shared that Filipinos in Fukushima were forced to largely rely on themselves when the earthquake, tsumani and nuclear accident struck one after the other.
She introduced Marissa Orikasa, a Filipino worker in Japan who was living in Fukushima with her husband and one year and four month-old daughter when the three disasters happened.
“For days after we received no help from the Philippine embassy in Japan. When it finally managed to put up an evacuation center, we found out that we had to pay for the food being given out. When embassy officials arrived in Fukushima after Filipinos like myself continued to bombard them with pleas for help, they came in a luxury car and offered us rides on a bus that would supposedly transport us away from the devastated areas. They didn’t even wait for the bus to fill and the employees in charge of it drove away: there were only five passengers on the bus. They were too afraid to stay long enough to help us,” she said.
Orikasa was a worker in factory in Fukushima, but after the accident, it closed and has not opened since. She and her husband decided to send their daughter back to the Philippines and she went with her.
“It was hard getting a plane ticket, and the Philippine government was unable t help us get flights. It was also upsetting when we found out Philippine Airlines increased their fares– tickets became three times more than their usual price!,” she said.
Orikasa said the nuclear accident has made life highly uncertain for Fukushima residents and for those living in nearby areas.
“The authorities said that that everything was being handled and made safe, but at the same time we were told to stay inside our houses. We were told that the food was safe, but we kept hearing reports of contamination. There were very inconsistent reports of what the health and safety situation was. My husband and I did not want to expose our daughter to more risks,” she said.
No to Nuclear Reactors in the PH, Period
In the immediate wake of the Fukushima accident, local proponents of the mothballed Bataan Nuclear Plant (BNPP) announced that they were dropping their calls for its revival, saying that public opinion was dead-set against it.
Chairman of the Agham group of scientists (not the party list group) Dr. Giovanni Tapang said that even if the Fukushima accident did not happen, there was still no way that the BNPP would be revived.
“Time and again we have said that the BNPP should not operate for reasons of public safety, and nothing has changed. Any and all funds that were earmarked for its revival should be utilized for efforts to maximize indigenous and fossil fuels and other alternative energy sources. The Philippines can make leaps and bounds in economic progress if only the government would stop putting private profit ahead of the needs of the Filipino people. The Aquino government keeps prioritizing energy sector investment instead of finding sustainable, affordable and safer sources of energy,” he said.
Tapang said that designers and engineers of nuclear power plants do not genuinely consider the safety of residents when building their reactors.
“Their intent is to generate energy for profit; earnings take precedence over the threats against the lives and welfare of residents in areas where the nuclear plants are,” he said.
As the program wound to a close, Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes said that the first casualty is always the truth when it comes to nuclear accidents and their impact on communities.
“There are growing protests against nuclear reactors and nuclear power plants all over the world because the risks are too myriad and too serious to ignore or dismiss. More and more people are demanding cleaner and safer energy sources, energy that doesn’t kill the environment, doesn’t cause people deadly and fatal diseases. Governments of the world must listen to these demands, and we must all continue to be vigilant,” he said.