MANILA, Philippines – Energy Secretary Carlos Jericho Petilla said on Tuesday, April 28, acknowledged that he “can’t stay” in the Cabinet “forever,” and is in fact considering seeking a legislative post.
Petilla, who served as Leyte governor for 9 years before being appointed energy chief in 2012, said he is considering running for senator or congressman in May 2016.
He comes from a political family in the Eastern Visayas province, where his brother succeeded him as governor and his mother is mayor of Palo town. The Petillas belong to President Benigno Aquino III’s Liberal Party. (READ: Who is Jericho Petilla?)
“I am thinking about it. I can’t stay in this position forever. Eventually, I have to go,” Petilla said Tuesday, a day ahead of a news conference that his department called.
Should he decide to run, Petilla will have to quit the Department of Energy before the filing of certificates of candidacies in mid-October.
“If I am serious about it, it is difficult to still be here and make preparations. It would be unfair to use my current position. So, I can’t have two at the same time. The moment you declare, you are already a candidate,” Petilla said.
The energy secretary is aware that he is not as well-known as the other senatorial aspirants.
Since the polling firm Pulse Asia started including his name in senatorial preferences surveys in September 2014, Petilla has ranked 40th or lower. Only 12 candidates are elected to the Senate every election.
He is not discouraged by the numbers. “The question that needs to be answered here is this: Is there something I can contribute? If you feel that you can contribute more than the other candidates – and I know that’s enough for you to run – then that answers it all.”
Petilla submitted his resignation letter to President Aquino in December of 2013, 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 did not let him go, saying there were only few villages where power was not restored, and that Petilla’s department was able to bring power back to most areas.
Petilla became the target of criticisms again after he 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 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…,” he said.
“It’s difficult to be in this position but everyone knows that I am doing something and not just sitting here and wait for my term to end,” Petilla added. – with a report from Reynaldo Santos Jr/Rappler.com