BAYBAY CITY, Leyte – The newly appointed Secretary of the Department of Energy -- outgoing Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho “Icot” Loreto-Petilla, a political scion, businessman and educator, is best known as an eloquent public speaker among his constituents.
Hailing from Palo, Leyte, the town where General Douglas MacArthur disembarked to fulfill his famed promise to return to the Philippines, Petilla, 49, comes from the Loreto-Cari-Petilla clan, a well-entrenched political family in the province.
He is the son of former Leyte Gov Leopoldo E. Petilla and present Palo Mayor Remedios Matin Loreto-Petilla, also a former governor and congressman of the 1st district of Leyte.
His aunt, Carmen Loreto-Cari is the mayor of the city of Baybay, while Cari’s sons Mike and Boying are currently the Vice Mayor of Baybay City and the Representative of the 5th District of Leyte, respectively.
Although a descendant of well-known politicians in Leyte, Petilla entered the world of politics only at the age of 40 when he ran for, and eventually became, the governor of Leyte.
Now serving his third and last consecutive term as governor, Petilla was supposed to run for senator in the 2007 elections under then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s Team Unity ticket, but decided to back out one week after filing his candidacy. Actor Cesar Montano, who hails from Bohol, got the slot instead.
The governor was also expected to go head to head against the member of another political clan, incumbent Leyte 1stDistrict Rep Ferdinand Romualdez, for the May 2013 elections but Petilla dropped his bid after Ferdinand’s brother, Benjamin Philip G. Romualdez decided not to challenge his brother, Leopoldo, for the gubernatorial position.
Business and academe
Beyond his political pursuits, Petilla is also involved in business and the academe.
Petilla worked as a consultant for large corporations while teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University, where he also went for high school and college, finishing a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Engineering.
One of Petilla's advocacies is Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
As a governor, he envisioned Leyte as an ICT hub and converted a 6.9 hectare lot at Barangay Pawing, Palo into the Leyte Information Communication Technology Park or Leyte ICoT Park, after his name.
During his first 100 days in office, Petilla led the drafting of the Rules and Regulations of the Leyte Province Investment Code of 2004, which seeks to attract investors to the area as it offers a 100% real property tax holiday for 5 years.
As a businessman, some of Petilla's ventures include being the president and CEO of the International Data Conversion Solution Inc located in Mandaluyong City, and Accudata Inc in Tacloban City. He is also the part-owner and consultant of DirectData Capture, which has offices in the United Kingdom and New York, as well as Datahold in the United Kingdom.
With Petilla’s wide exposure to business and the academe, his knack for public speaking became widely known in the province.
An eloquent speaker, Petilla is fluent not just in English and Tagalog but also in Cebuano and Waray, two dialects that signify the cultural divide between the western and eastern parts of his province.
During his free time, Petilla rides his jet ski across the province’s islands.
At one time in May 2010, the young governor, along with his wife Frances Ann Regis Basilio and some friends, were crossing the Camotes Sea from Cebu City to Leyte via jet ski.
They landed at the shores of Visayas State University (VSU), a large campus in Leyte's Baybay City, unaware that in a building directly in front of the beach, top officials and academics of VSU had convened for the university's annual strategic planning.
Still wearing his wet suit, Petilla was invited by VSU president Jose Bacusmo to address the professors of the university. He agreed, quipping, “This is actually a historic moment because this is the first time that I have been asked to give a message while I am very wet." - Rappler.com