Press Releases

Salceda congratulates Lotilla for Energy appointment; House tax chair says new DOE chief to take “hard but right” decisions, outlines seven-part grocery list for new energy secretary

July 14th, 2022

House Ways and Means Chair Joey Sarte Salceda (Albay, 2nd district) has congratulated Secretary-designate Raphael “Popo” Lotilla for being appointed by President Marcos as the new chief of the Department of Energy. 

In a statement released to the media on the day the appointment was announced, Salceda said that Lotilla “is among the strongest appointments PBBM has made, and is quite likely the best appointment he could have made for DOE.”

“I am very confident in Popo [Lotilla]. PBBM has made a solid choice. We worked together very closely during the PGMA administration, with him as PSALM head and then DOE Secretary, and with me then as Presidential Economic Adviser and then Presidential Chief of Staff and we also worked on EPIRA in my first term as Congressman,” Salceda said.

“The power sector is no longer the financial wreck that decades of neglect turned it into prior to PGMA. It would have been a financial disaster for both the energy sector and the country, if not for Popo Lotilla’s heavylifting during the EPIRA Law deliberation. PSALM is even likely to completely retire its debt by 2026,” Salceda added.

Salceda also said that “Lotilla was also an ally of mine in pushing for the RVAT reforms, particularly on petroleum products, and the petroleum excise tax under RA 9337. Popo was also instrumental in getting the JPEPA completed and ratified.”

“We need someone like Popo who gets difficult but necessary reforms done. Given our energy situation, I am sure he will have to make hard choices. I am sure the decisions Secretary Lotilla will make are hard but right.”

Seven concerns for the new energy chief

Salceda also has a wish list for Lotilla. The tax panel chair says these points are “necessary to finally drag the aged Philippine energy sector into the 21st century.”

“First, I hope to work with him on liberalizing the investment regime for the power generation sector. We need new capital to increase our generating capacity. Our baseload is too thin, so we need investments in more dependable sources.”

“Second, we will need to study and perhaps initiate nuclear energy generation under PBBM. The Koreans are interested, and they have the technology to get it done. But we need inter-agency cooperation with DOE and DOST at the forefront.”

“Third, we need to explore new renewable energy sources that make use of our abundant marine resources. Energy sources such as Ocean thermal energy conversion and other ocean-based energy technology, perhaps even solar on our seas, could be explored.”

“Fourth, the West Philippine Sea oil and gas exploration projects will also need some progress, as Malampaya is set to get depleted by 2027 or so.”

“Fifth, we will need to generate investments in energy infrastructure, particularly to modernize our grid and our retail transmission systems. We also need new LNG terminals, especially as Malampaya runs out.”

“Sixth, the energy situation right now will require adept crisis management. Secretary Lotilla has that experience, as we faced a similar inflation situation in 2005.”

“My parochial concern, which I will also raise to Secretary Lotilla, is getting issues with Albay’s electricity situation resolved. We will need outlays there to reduce systems losses, and there are problems with getting the distribution utility’s capital expenditure plan approved. We are also considering smaller, self-sufficient grids for our islands.”

“Which leads to my seventh concern for Secretary Lotilla. We need to get provincial power supply right. It’s the necessary condition for diffusing industrial and service-sector growth to the countryside. That may mean consolidating small concessions into bigger ones to create economies of scale, manage capital expenditures better, and financially reengineer or restructure failing cooperatives.”

“That’s politically tenuous stuff. That’s why we need a Lotilla for this moment – someone who makes tough but ultimately necessary choices.”

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