Claim: The Philippines has the largest deposit of deuterium in the world, particularly in the Philippine Deep, and that mining this will pay off the Philippine’s debts within a year.
A YouTube video published on 16 August 2023 by Katuklas PH claims that the Philippine Deep has one of the largest Deuterium deposits in the world and that mining the Deuterium will pay off the Philippines’ debts.
“Ang potensyal naman nito [deuterium] sa ekonomiya ay humigit kumulang labindalawang milyong bariles bawat araw, na may kapasidad na halaga na $7 kada bariles na maaring umabot sa $84 million sa isang araw o $30.66 billion sa loob ng isang taon, sapat upang matustusan ang pambayad para sa lumulobong utang ng gobyerno sa loob lamang ng isang taon (the potential of deuterium to the economy would amouth to 12 million barrels a day, and at $7 per barrel, that would mean $84 billion in a day and $30.66 billion a year, enough to pay our debt in only a year),” it said.
Deuterium is a hydrogen isotope, and is also referred to as “heavy hydrogen”. “with a nucleus consisting of one proton and one neutron, which is double the mass of the nucleus of ordinary hydrogen (one proton).” It is used as fuel in nuclear fusion reactions. It is also a “colorless, odorless gas that is highly flammable.”
Claims of Deuterium being the solution to the country’s debt have been around since the 1980s. According to the University of the Philippines Marcos Regime Research Program, a local “scientist”, Cesar Escosa, had claimed that the United States of America and former president Corazon Aquino had been discussing the “deuterium project”.
Escosa is the self-proclaimed discoverer of the large Deuterium deposits in the country. The Philippines had a debt of $28 billion at that time, and he claimed that this debt would have been covered by the Philippines mining Deuterium in the country.
Escosa and his claims have been questioned as early as the 1980s. Vera Files and Rappler have also debunked claims of the Philippines having the largest Deuterium deposits in the world.
The Nonconventional Resources Division of what was previously the Bureau of Energy Development, Office of Energy Affairs, has explicitly debunked the Deuterium claim in 1988. They stated that “scientific facts make it impossible for deuterium deposits to be lodged in the Philippine Deep.”
Even if large Deuterium deposits in the Philippine Deep did exist, their supposed yearly value of $30.66 billion would not be enough to pay off the country’s current debt in just a year. As of the end of June 2023, the national government’s outstanding debt is $14.15 trillion.
A 2022 market research report shows that the global deuterium products market size is currently at $444.70 million (P24.9 billion), and by 2028 is estimated to grow to $570.22 million (P32 billion).
As of 2021, the use of Deuterium as a large-scale power source in the Philippines is still in the early research phase. According to the Philippine National Oil Company, “The study is still ongoing, thus it is [too] early to provide findings at this time. Technologically speaking though, deuterium as fuel has not been widely researched and has only been used for nuclear fusion reactor prototypes.”
Why we fact-checked this:
As of fact-checking, the video has garnered over 68,000 views and over 1,700 likes. Claims about the Philippines being Deuterium-rich have been widespread since the 1980s, despite being debunked multiple times. Videos like the ones fact-checked give wrong information to the general public about the country’s environment and may cause people to distrust the real scientists of the country.