By Dhel Nazario
The top official of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) visited the country early this year to meet with its officials to discuss the development of nuclear power as a long-term part of the Philippines’ energy mix and the use of nuclear science and technology.
Highlighting the country’s strong engagement in Atoms for Peace and Development, director general Yukiya Amano of the IAEA visited in February to meet with Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Secretary Fortunato De La Peña.
DOE’s recommendations on a national position on nuclear power, which will be submitted to President Duterte, is based on several energy planning studies with IAEA assistance.
Amano discussed with De La Peña and other DOST officials the current and future engagements with various IAEA technical cooperation projects.
The director general emphasized the role of the IAEA in spearheading the use of nuclear science and technology to meet the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These projects and technologies include food irradiation to increase the shelf-life of export products, cyclotrons for producing radiopharmaceuticals for early cancer diagnosis and sterile insect technique to control the population of mosquitoes which serve as vectors for various diseases.
Amano was also one of the distinguished guests during the signing of a memorandum of understanding between DOST-Philippine Nuclear Research Institute (DOST-PNRI) and the Department of Education (DepEd) on the implementation of the IAEA technical cooperation project on nuclear science and technology education for secondary schools in the Asia-Pacific region.
The project aims to help increase the interest of students in the Asia-Pacific region regarding science and technology in general, eventually leading to future careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
Amano also met with several heads and representatives of Philippine universities, colleges and members of the academe for a roundtable discussion and open forum. Several officials from IAEA, DOE, DOST and other government agencies were also present during the forum, which was facilitated by DOST-PNRI.
The academic institutions brought up the possibility of obtaining support from IAEA and DOST-PNRI toward building their capabilities in the study and development of nuclear and radiation applications.
The director general’s visit to the Philippines was the second leg of his Asian tour early this 2018, which also includes Indonesia and Thailand.