US-Philippines Nuclear Pact Deemed Constitutional by Department of Justice

Manila — The Department of Justice (DOJ) has affirmed the constitutionality of a bilateral agreement between the United States and the Philippines concerning the peaceful use of nuclear energy. The DOJ issued a legal opinion stating that the pact adheres to Philippine national laws and does not contravene the country’s constitution.

According to Philippines News Agency, addressed to DFA Office of American Affairs Assistant Secretary Jose Victor Chan-Gonzaga, the agreement—formally known as the “Agreement for Cooperation between the Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the Government of the USA concerning Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy” or the 123 Agreement—complies fully with existing Philippine legislation. The agreement, signed by Department of Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in San Francisco in November 2023 during the APEC Summit, facilitates the transfer of nuclear materials and technology under stringent controls.

The DOJ highlighted that the implementation of the 123 Agreement is supported by several Republic Acts, including the Atomic Energy Regulatory and Liability Act of 1968, the Strategic Trade Management Act of 2015, and the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020. DOJ Secretary Jesus Remulla emphasized, “The provisions of the 123 Agreement do not conflict with both existing Philippine legislation and related bills pending before Congress.”

Remulla also noted the agreement’s alignment with the Philippine state policy against nuclear weapons, stating that it specifies the prohibition of the use of transferred nuclear materials for military purposes or nuclear weapons development. The DOJ concluded, “It is clear that this bilateral accord does not preclude the application of the national laws of the parties, especially of the Philippines, but rather gives way to their enforcement instead.”