Thursday, September 15, 2016

Why the Philippines will go nuclear

32 New Paradigm EIR September 9, 2016
Address of Antonio “Butch” Valdes to the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Conference on the Prospects
for Nuclear Power in the Asia-Pacific Region,
Manila, Aug. 30-Sept. 1, 2016. Valdes was introduced
by Dr. Kenneth Peddicord, Director of the Nuclear
Power Institute (NPI) of Texas and a professor of nuclear
engineering at Texas A&M University.
Dr. Peddicord: I’m pleased to welcome to the
podium a gentleman I sat next to yesterday, and really
enjoyed the conversations with him, Antonio “Butch”
Valdes, who is with an NGO, the Save the Nation Movement,
here in the Philippines. He has worked as a columnist
at the Business World, a publisher and columnist
at the News Daily, the Independent, and the Observer,
as a radio commentator, the founding president of the
Chamber of Filipino Entrepreneurs, the chairman of the
Philippines LaRouche Society, and he’s served as Undersecretary
of the Department of Education, Culture
and Sports. . . . He’s a former president of the De La
Salle University Alumni Association, Asian History of
Management Alumni Association, and the Association
of Certified Public Accountants in Public Practice.
He holds a degree in Liberal Arts in Commerce, with
a major in political science and accounting from De La
Salle University and a master’s degree in management
from the Asian Institute of Management. Please join me
in welcoming Butch Valdes to the podium.
Antonio “Butch” Valdes: Thank you very much.
There were a few lines there that I was not familiar
with, but thank you anyway. [laughter]
Let me be the initiator of a change of pace. But from the
outset, I’d like to, on behalf of my fellow Filipinos here,
I’d like to thank the IAEA, and of course, the Department
of Energy, for creating this particular conference,
a conference which could not have been timed in a more
appropriate period, and especially here in our country.
I am one of those who have been pushing for nuclear
energy for quite some time now, over 15 years as
a matter of fact, but that was not because I knew a lot
about nuclear energy, at the time, but more because I
had looked into it—as a layman, as a businessman—not
Why the Philippines Will Go Nuclear
Presentation by head of the PLS, Butch Valdes, at the IAEA conference in Manila, Aug. 29, 2016.
September 9, 2016 EIR New Paradigm 33
as a scientist—as an economist, a businessman, and a
I, together with many other Filipinos, was asking
myself, what has happened to our country, and where is
it going? There is a saying in the Philippines, in our language,
so I’ll try to paraphrase it: When you don’t know
where you come from, you don’t know where you are,
you will not know where you are going. The Filipinos
here would understand what I mean. So, in order to be
able to do this, you had to dig up a little in the past, and
see what has happened. I was a bit unclear about certain
periods, but after knowing a little bit about those periods,
I began to realize that there was a process, a process
that brought us to this particular situation.
As far as nuclear power is concerned, I have to start
in the period where the whole world was shocked in
1945, when the atomic bomb was exploded—the only
time that a nuclear bomb was ever exploded in the
whole history of mankind, and it created such an impression
on the rest of the world—including of course
my parents; I was not yet alive during that time—but
this kind of shock and awe that was created at that time,
led to a kind of mindset, most especially, in my experience
here in our country.
Eisenhower’s Pledge to the World
So we realized that the United States, after Harry
Truman dropped that bomb,— that the next President
realized that he had to correct a certain image and an
understanding of what nuclear energy really was. And I
am happy that the IFNEC [International Framework for
Nuclear Cooperation] and the IAEA promote Atoms for
Peace, because the very first organization that we had
put together in pushing for nuclear energy was called
the Atoms for Peace Movement. And it was in line with
the program that President Eisenhower had initiated in
the United States to present to the whole world. He
called it the Atoms for Peace program.
And the whole objective was a success here. Let me
read it together with you: “To the making of these fateful
decisions, the United States pledges before you—
and therefore before the world—its determination to
help solve the fearful atomic dilemma—to devote its
entire heart and mind to find the way by which the miraculous
inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to
his death, but consecrated to his life.”1
1. An extract from President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s address to the
UN General Assembly, Dec. 8, 1953.
For some, of course, from the United States, this
might be ordinary, but for us, in the rest of the world, it
was inspiring. And it inspired us so much that we, I’m
sure, communicated with the government of the United
States and we became the first recipient of this particular
Atoms for Peace program. Soon after, we were
granted the resources and the technical help to put up a
reactor, a 2 megawatt reactor, and to start the Philippine
Atomic Energy Commission, which is the precursor of
what we now know as the PNRI, the Philippine Nuclear
Research Institute.
During this time, which was in the 1950s, there were
attempts, of course, and the continuous study of what
nuclear energy could do, for peaceful means, in terms of
our economy, in terms of our agricultural production,
and the possibility of industrialization. But at that time,
these benefits had already been shown to us, but because,
I suppose, because of the low cost of oil at the time, the
effort to go into nuclear was not as urgent as later on, and
this became the decision of government. It was not as
urgent because, well, there were politics involved, but
the other thing was that oil was just that cheap.
Nixon Pulls the Plug
But some time in 1971, the economic order changed.
During this period between 1946 and 1971, the whole
world was being run by a certain economic order that
came out of the Bretton Woods agreement; that Bretton
Woods agreement basically meant that there will be
fixed exchange rates, which means there would be no
fluctuation on currency exchanges; no fluctuations, it
was fixed. And the IMF was the one that was supposed
to be moderating this. And aside from that, of course,
usury was considered to be a crime, and it was a crime
during this particular period. People who were charging
excessive interest rates were charged because of the
anti-usury law.
This was all the way up to 1971. Just imagine if the
exchange rates were fixed. People could, at that time,
start looking for long-term investments, because if the
exchange rates were fixed, the interest rates do not fluctuate.
And if the interest rates do not fluctuate, the cost
of money stays stable, and you as an investor would be
able to project yourself, 20, 30 years on. And that’s exactly
what was happening.
So, if that is the case, a lot of money, resources,
could go into the physical economy, infrastructure.
However, in 1971, initiated also by the United
States, President Nixon pulls the plug and says, the
34 New Paradigm EIR September 9, 2016
world will be going to a different
economic order, and we were
going into a floating exchange
rate. Now, these floating exchange
rates allowed money to be a commodity,
because, since it was varying
in relationship with other currencies,
it became an object of
investment. That’s why it became
more difficult, right at that time, to
start investing in infrastructure,
somethings that you will need over
long-term gestation periods.
Now this condition made it difficult
for us, because the IMF took
the lead for the financial institutions
to start imposing certain
rules. I still remember the time
when they told us—at that time the
President was President Marcos—
they told us that we needed to devalue our currency visà-
vis the U.S. dollar, and that they considered our currency
to be overvalued—it was at that time more or less
about 4 pesos to $1—and that we needed to divide it
immediately to 8 pesos to $1.
You can just imagine the kind of shock that this was
going to do to us. Under the threat that we will not be
granted the resources by the banking sector to be able to
import our oil, if we did not devalue, we devalued, not
exactly to 8, but pretty close to 8. And subsequent devaluations
then happened: Just imagine, if we needed
only 4 pesos to pay $1 debt, in a very short period of
time, if you bring it all the way up to 1986, we would
need 28 pesos to pay $1, and that was going to be borne
by the population. But that is the system, and we still
went, nevertheless.
A Coup to Stop Industrialization
Because of this pressure that was extended to us,
Mr. Marcos decided in 1974, to go into an energy development
program—a program which was going to be
based on three baseload activities. One was geothermal,
another was hydroelectric, and a third was nuclear.
Of course, we went into all of this, including nuclear,
but the nuclear portion took a little bit more time.
As part of this nuclear energy development program,
he pushed what we called an 11-point industrialization
program. This whole industrialization program
was going alongside an energy development program, a
program which he expected to make the country energy
self-sufficient by 1990. This did not happen.
Sometime in 1986 we had a revolution. We couldn’t
start our nuclear power plant, for one reason or another.
In 1985, we were ready to fire it, but this was stopped,
because, according to U.S. Ambassador Bosworth at
the time, they wanted to take a look at the condition of
the plant. There were no questions about the condition
of the plant. They said that the gates and the perimeter
needed more security against terrorists and the hospitals
that were in the vicinity—a 30-mile vicinity—were
not Class A hospitals, they were Class B and C hospitals;
they did not count the Class A hospital that was
only about 10 kilometers away from the nuclear power
plant, that is, in the Subic Bay [i.e., in the U.S. military
base—ed.]. This was the situation.
By the time we hit 1986, revolution—and the coming
administration decided to mothball what was an otherwise
ready-to-operate nuclear power plant. And of
course—for some people this might be obvious, but
others might not see through what I’m saying—there
were definite plans, as far as I’m concerned, for us not to
go industrial, and to stop us from this whole energy development
program would have stopped us, as earlier
said, yesterday by Congressman Mark Cojuangco.
Service Economies Don’t Need Scientists
The rest of Southeast Asia also did not go nuclear.
Why? I’ll let you answer that. But you see what had
Right to left: PLS head Butch Valdez, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi, and Dr. Carlito R.
Aleta, former Director of the Philippine Nuclear Energy Institute, at the IAEA
conference in Manila, Aug. 29, 2016.
September 9, 2016 EIR New Paradigm 35
happened. At the same time that this thing was being
mothballed, a major economic thrust was being pushed.
They called it “globalization.” The globalization program
was to convert economies which were otherwise
producer economies, or setting themselves up to be
producer economies, into service economies, which
meant they were going to make use of our cheap labor,
through,— if you know how cheap labor is generated—
they continue to devalue your currency vis-à-vis their
own. As you get cheaper, you are now given contracts
to do the work which they could not do anymore because
it’s too expensive. So we became precisely that
kind of economy.
And during that period, we stopped producing scientists.
What we produced were nurses, caregivers, culinary
arts people, and other areas of service. I am not
denigrating them; this is where the education institutions
went, because that was where the work was. So
this is the situation.
Again, from a standpoint of politics, I will let you
answer that. But for us, what we see here and the reason
nuclear was very important, we know that man is the
only creature that has been able to use fire for its benefit.
And using fire for its benefit, it was on that, that the
development of man, the whole history of mankind,
was based—in the whole history of mankind.
We Are Promethean
We refer, of course, very often pedagogically to a
guy named Prometheus. Prometheus as you know was
the one who brought the beneficial use of fire to mortals,
despite what Zeus was saying. And for this he was
punished. Our national hero, José Rizal, even sculpted
a figure of Prometheus being tied to a rock, to be eaten
by vultures, because he has defied Zeus, because he had
taught mortals the beneficial use of fire.
Now, the IAEA is doing precisely what Prometheus
was doing, but it will not be tied to a rock. And we are
going to move very quickly, through the leadership
of—of course—yourselves, and it is through you that
this kind of thinking that we have, makes us more inspired.
Because together you understand what man has
to do in order to face up to those interests that are decided,
that are determined, to try to prevent man from
developing. But as you see, over the last 70 years, despite
all of these efforts, the world and humankind is
moving forward.
I mentioned earlier the value of fusion energy, and
reprocessing. I say this not because I am a scientist, but
because I read that man continues, continues to study
all kinds of solutions for possible problems that we will
be facing. Because we had gone through a whole history,
where we first discovered the benefit of fire from
wood, and as we discovered the technology, we then
had what you call the capacity to sustain an even greater
population. And every stage of the way, every stage,
after wood, we discovered coal; after coal, we discovered
oil; and after oil we discovered nuclear fission. The
next will be nuclear fusion. And probably the next will
be something else, like matter-antimatter reactions. But
all of this is within our capability, maybe not the present
IAEA, but the succeeding one, the succeeding organizations
that will go there.
Because after all, if we are to assure ourselves of
continued existence, we must use what we’ve all been
given, whether I’m an accountant, an economist, a scientist,
an educator, or any ordinary businessman, we
have that capability to be creative—imagination. Imagination
is cheap, but it yields the highest return on that
Valdes responded to a question regarding the antinuclear
power organizations.
Valdes: I found out over the years, so many years,
that we’ve been presented with so much disinformation—
I’m sorry, they are not my colleagues, so I don’t
mind denigrating them.
This is a campaign, a campaign that is being waged,
a fear campaign for us to get out of science, for countries
like us and people like us not to go into scientific
inquiry and not to latch onto scientific truth, and to be
affected by other types of campaigns which have different
objectives. And that is, I suppose, a reality of
humankind. There are those that will not want you to
develop because their objective is to control other
On the other hand, it is truth which is the basis of
true science. Let me interject, that there are scientists,
and there are scientists. There are those that are of
course motivated differently. But there is true science.
And the fact that the IAEA and the technology which is
nuclear technology has been around for 70 years and it
is still going strong, still affecting lives positively all
over the world, that is a true testament of what scientific
truth is. No matter what campaigns are being waged for
the moment, they will die off. Because eventually, truth
will be the basis. You just have to steady the ship, stay
focussed, just steady as it goes—and go for it.

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