DOST-PNRI welcomes House panel’s passage of bill creating atomic commission

Published May 28, 2021, 8:32 PM

by Charissa Luci-Atienza 

The Department of Science and Technology – Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) has welcomed the House Committee on Appropriations’ approval of a measure calling for stronger legal regulatory framework for ionizing radiation.

(Photo from the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute)

“The Committee recently approved the substitute bill for the Comprehensive Atomic Regulation Act, consolidating 13 House bills in support of the measure,” it said in a statement on Friday, May 28.

The substitute bill was approved by the House panel, chaired by ACT-CIS partylist Rep. Eric Go Yap during its meeting on May 12.

House Committee on Appropriations meeting on May 12, 2021 (from DOST-PNRI)

The DOST-PNRI noted that during the panel meeting, DOST Secretary Fortunato “Boy” T. de la Peña rallied behind the creation of an independent regulatory body consistent with international standards.

“Among the key provisions of the bill is the proposed creation of the Philippine Atomic Regulatory Commission (PARC) which will be charged with the regulation of all activities and facilities involving sources of ionizing radiation,” it said.

“These include nuclear and radioactive materials, facilities, and radiation-generating equipment which are commonly used in the medical and industrial sectors.”

At present, the DOST-PNRI is one of the two regulatory bodies dealing with ionizing radiation.

The Institute explained that it “regulates nuclear and radioactive materials and facilities.”

“Meanwhile, the Center for Device Regulation, Radiation Health and Research under the Food and Drug Administration of the Department of Health regulates radiation generating devices such as X-ray machines.”

During the committee meeting, de la Peña cited the consistent position of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that the regulatory functions should be separate from promotion and research work.

He said the proposed creation of PARC should be treated as a separate regulatory agency from the PNRI.

The DOST chief said the approval of the measure is timely, considering the continued expansion of nuclear applications in agriculture, medicine and industry, and that the country is taking a second look at the inclusion of nuclear power to its energy mix.

In July 2020, President Duterte signed Executive Order 116 creating the National Energy Program Inter-Agency Committee (NEP-IAC) to look into the adoption of a national position on Nuclear Energy Program.

The DOST-PNRI is the vice chair of the NEP-IAC. The Committee is led by the Department of Energy (DOE).

“The study incorporates the IAEA’s Milestone Approach on 19 nuclear infrastructure issues a country must first address in preparation for a nuclear power program, including the establishment of an independent regulatory body,” the DOST-PNRI said.

During the 17th Congress, the bill was passed by the House of Representatives. It was re-filed in the 18th Congress and in March 2020, it was jointly approved by the House Committees on Government Reorganization, Science and Technology and Energy.

The bills were filed by Deputy Speakers Rufus Rodriguez and Michael Romero; Reps. Ron Salo, Virgilio Lacson, Francis Gerald Aguinaldo Abaya, Joey Sarte Salceda, Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Reps. ‘Kuya’ Jose Antonio Sy-Alvarado, Eric Olivarez, Sharon Garin, and Juan Miguel Macapagal Arroyo.

The counterpart measures in the Senate were filed by Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.