MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Outgoing Leyte Gov Jericho "Icot" Petilla will be the new Energy Secretary replacing Rene Almendras.
Palace sources confirmed to Rappler that Petilla has been offered the job. They said Almendras will be moving to Malacañang either as head of the Presidential Management Staff (PMS) or chief of staff.
Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda however said he could not confirm the report.
The Leyte Samar Daily Express first broke the news when it quoted the governor's mother, Mayor Remedios "Matin" Petilla, as saying that he was going to be the next Energy Secretary.
Icot Petilla is a member of the ruling Liberal Party; he is on his last term as Leyte governor.
Sought for comment, Icot Petilla told Rappler in a text message shortly after 10 pm Tuesday, October 16: "No appointment yet. Premature news 'yon. Just the same thanks for your support."
The local newspaper said Mayor Petilla disclosed her son's appointment in a press conference. “But his appointment was hastened when it was known that the (political) coast is now clear,” the newspaper quoted Petilla as saying.
Gov. Petilla chose not to run for any elective post in the May 2013 elections despite rumors he was eyeing a congressional seat.
The Leyte Samar Daily Express recalled that the President himself dropped hints that Petilla would get the job, when he visited the town of Isabel in Leyte early October.
The President has been convincing Almendras to move to Malacañang. Rappler earlier reported that he was going to replace PMS head Julia Abad by August, but this did not materialize reportedly because Almendras was having difficulty looking for a replacement.
Politician, not finance man
Petilla's background in politics is generally a deviation from the finance-heavy experience of previous energy chiefs. After all, the energy portfolio remains in a years-long system overhaul that involves financial restructuring and deal packaging.
Starting with investment bankers Jose Isidro Camacho and Vincent Perez Jr. in 2001, the energy department has been supervising the mandated radical restructuring of the electricity industry from one dominated by the government sector (in generation and transmission) to a fully privatized industry.
Raphael Lotilla later assumed the position armed with the experience of heading PSALM, the government unit tasked to privatize state-owned power assets, as well as managing the financial obligations of generation firm National Power Corp. (Napocor).
Almendras took over in July 2010, following the suicide of former military general Angelo Reyes. Almendras himself was a banker and was a top executive of major utility companies in the country.
The new energy secretary still has to enforce the remaining phases of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA), a landmark law passed in 2001. EPIRA's promise of lower power costs and stable supply is still being pursued. – Rappler.com