Aquino rejects Petilla's resignation

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

MANILA (Updated) -- President Benigno Aquino III rejected on Thursday Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla’s offer to resign for failing to meet his self-imposed target to restore power in all typhoon-ravaged towns by Christmas Eve.

Aquino instead praised Petilla for "excellent performance" for re-energizing 317 of 320 towns that lost power after Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) hit central Philippines last month, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

It was originally estimated it would take up to six months to restore power but Petilla managed to do most of the work in 40 days, said Lacierda, leaving less than one percent with no electricity.

"(C)ognizant of the fact that according to original estimates, it would take three to six months to restore power in town centers, considering the extent of the damage caused by Super Typhoon Yolanda: the Luzon-Visayas connection was down, the major geothermal plant in Leyte was also down; and generation, transmission and distribution lines were down... In the face of these challenges, the accomplishments of Secretary Petilla speak for itself," said Malacañang in a statement.

"By any measure, this is excellent performance," it added.

Yolanda’s ferocious wind and storm surges knocked down thousands of transmission towers and electric posts, including in worst-hit Tacloban City in Leyte province, where a major geothermal plant was damaged, officials said.

The November 8 typhoon also killed at least 6,100 people in the central Philippines, displaced at least four million others and left its most gruesome mark on Tacloban, a city of 240,000 that will need years to recover.

But Aquino noted that “foreign observers who have seen work being done in the Visayas, and in comparison to disasters of lesser magnitude in other countries, pointed out that repair and rehabilitation of energy infrastructure was done faster.”

According to Lacierda, Aquino “has no intention of losing the services of an honorable public servant.”

A week after Yolanda ravaged Eastern Visayas, Petilla vowed to resign if he would not be able to restore power in all of the affected towns by Christmas Eve.

On Tuesday, he said that he had no plans of quitting but told some news organizations that he was already drafting his resignation letter the day after for failure to completely energize all the affected towns. [READ: Petilla to quit for failing to fully energize typhoon-hit areas]

Petilla was a former governor of Leyte. He was appointed as Energy secretary in October 2012. (SFP/AP/Sunnex)

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