Energy chief Petilla confirms resignation

Rappler.com
Energy chief Petilla confirms resignation
(UPDATED) Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla says no one pressured him to resign. Petilla will not leave the agency until his suitable replacement is found.



MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla confirmed that he resigned, hours after he expressed his intention to seek a legislative post. (READ: Petilla to quit DOE, run for Senate or House)

Petilla submitted to President Benigno Aquino III his resignation prior to Holy Week, he said in an interview with ABS-CBN news aired Tuesday evening, April 28.

He announced his resignation to the employees of the DOE Wednesday, in a general assembly. He told the department’s employees that his resignation is effective Thursday, April 30, or 5 weeks after he filed it, a source told Rappler.

DOE called a press conference Wednesday, April 29, coinciding with Petilla’s 52nd birthday.

Petilla is the second Cabinet official to quit in a week’s time.

Former Customs Commissioner John “Sunny” Sevilla quit his post April 23, citing political nominees as the last straw. His replacement, Alberto Lina, was sworn in as new Customs chief April 24. Lina was Customs chief during former President Gloria Macapacagal-Arroyo’s term.

Tumultuous term

Petilla clarified in the interview that no one influenced, pushed, or pressured him to resign.

He is also holding no grudge against Aquino or any Cabinet members over controversial issues that hounded his 2-year term as DOE chief.

“It really came from me,” Petilla said in the interview.

In December 2013, Petilla submitted his resignation letter to President Aquino after he failed to deliver on his promise to restore electricity by Christmas Eve in all the areas devastated by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). Aquino, however, stood by him citing that there were only few villages where power was not restored, and that DOE was able to bring power back to most areas.

DOE, under Petilla’s term, was also pressuring Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corporation to push through with its initial public offering – 12 years delayed since the passage of the Oil Deregulation Act of 1998 that mandates oil companies to list at least 10% of their shares with the Philippine Stock Exchange. Pilipinas Shell though said in October 2014 that it is still awaiting the final investment decision from its parent company whether to push through with the IPO or not.

Last year, Petilla pushed Congress to grant emergency powers to President Aquino to address what he said was a looming energy crisis. Lawmakers – particularly Senator Sergio Osmeña III – said Petilla was exaggerating with his estimates. “I pushed for it. Everyone was caught off guard and that’s why they all wanted to scrutinize me. Why did I do that? To prove that the government is here to do something. They keep on saying, ‘wala naman ginagawa ang gobyerno’ (the government is not doing anything), so now that government is doing something,” Petilla earlier said.

On April 20 this year, Petilla said he was pushing for a regulatory body to review the feasibility of reviving the Bataan Nuclear Power Plant. Talks on the mothballed facility’s revival started in 2014 when Petilla said the power plant, which has a 600-megawatt (MW) capacity, could help ease the country’s power supply problems.

Suitable replacement

Petilla was reluctant about the post and expressed intentions to resign early on, President Aquino told the members of the press Tuesday in Langkawi, Malaysia, where he attended the 26th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.

Aquino acknowledged Petilla’s sacrifices – from divesting himself from his family’s businesses, like a business process outsourcing entity in Tacloban, which was also hard hit by Yolanda; to setting aside his political ambitions and serving in Leyte.

Prior to his DOE appointment in 2012, he served for 9 years as governor of Leyte – where his brother succeeded him as governor, while his mother is mayor of Palo town. The Petillas are member of the Liberal Party of President Aquino. (READ: Who is Jericho Petilla?)

Hours prior to confirming his resignation, Petilla said he is keeping his options open whether to run for a senate or a congressional post in the May 2016 elections.

“I’m thinking about it. I can’t stay in this position forever. Eventually, I have to go,” Petilla earlier said.

Petilla will stay with DOE until a suitable replacement is found.

“Secretary Petilla will not leave the job if he’s not sure that it is in capable hands or that everything is already in place,” Aquino said.

Aquino added that he recognizes Petilla’s and other Cabinet members’ sacrifice in doing their job and that they have a right to advance their own personal plans.

Petilla said that all vital measures are put in place to avert a power crisis, and the only thing needed now is to monitor the situation.

“It looks like based on our outlook, we’re really going to survive 2015,” he said.

Petilla added that he will await the President’s instructions and will discuss with him how to move forward. – Lynda C. Corpuz / Rappler.com

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