ENERGY Secretary Angelo Reyes resigned from his position Friday to pursue his bid for a congressional seat in the coming May 10 elections.

Reyes announced his resignation in a press conference, saying he will give up his Cabinet post to concentrate on his ambition to join Congress through transport party-list 1-Utak (United Transport Koalisyon).

Friday is the last day of filing for party-list nominees and the start of local campaign period.

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Press Secretary Crispulo Icban said that Reyes will be replaced by Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp. (Psalm) president Jose Ibazeta.

Reyes has been criticized for various unpopular decisions and alleged negligence of duty, including unreasonable oil price hike and failing to anticipate the energy crisis caused by El Nino.

He was pressed by several groups and government officials to resign for supposed flaw in managing the Department of Energy (DOE).

Reyes was also the one who urged President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to declare an energy crisis in Mindanao after water levels in Mindanao-based hydroelectric power plants continued to drop due to dry spell.

But Reyes’s plan to represent 1-Utak is being questioned as he supposedly does not represent the marginalized sector but was just only an addition to forces of the Arroyo administration in the next Congress.

Ibazeta, meanwhile, was one of the professionals being eyed by Malacañang to take the DOE post even before Reyes tendered his resignation.

Ibazeta has made a major contribution in government’s power privatization program in the past two to three years.

He has been president and chief executive officer of Psalm since February 2007 and became special envoy to the Middle East Countries in Charge of Coordinating Humanitarian and Reconstruction Efforts Related to Iraq since June 2003.

Ibazeta also served as Treasurer of International Container Terminal Services Inc. from 1987 to February 2007.

He served as director in several companies such as A Soriano Corp,. Atlas Consolidated Mining and Development Corp., International Container Terminal Services Inc., and AB Capital Group.

He acquired his Bachelor’s Degree at Ateneo de Manila University and Master’s at University of San Francisco and New York University.

Turnover held

During the turnover at the DOE, Reyes said he is “heartened and confident that the one taking over the reins of the department of energy is a man of the stature and caliber.”

He also thanked his supporters, saying: “I am running as a nominee of the transport sector and I will serve the overall national interest and my actions will be based on that.”

Reyes was designated Energy chief in 2007 replacing then Secretary Rafael Lotilla who resigned in July 2007.

“I'm sure the president made the right decision in placing in the hands of Nono Ibazeta the responsibility for charting the direction for the Department of Energy,” he said.

Meantime, Ibazeta vowed to solve the power crisis in Mindanao and other alternative solution to address the power shortage.

“I have an idea of what Secretary Reyes does obviously because we have worked together for the last 2 years but needless to say what he has accomplished, my function now is to make sure it continues and prospers. The secretary has left many legacy and we'll make sure it happens, accomplished,” he told reporters.

“The most important thing now is the situation in Mindanao. The power situation there so we do have to address that, the shortage, it has short term medium term and long term ramifications so we'll have to address that very quickly, time is running short in Mindanao. That will probably be the most important thing I'll be doing in the next two months or so,” he furthered.

Ibazeta disclosed that he is meeting the new officials of the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines to discuss issues on power supply situation.

“We'll have to address it from the point of view of how to achieve with the least cost to government. It has a nature of an emergency because of the requirements of power in Mindanao, but it must also be looked at from the long term point of view because it's not just buying generators and solving it in the next six months,” he said.

Reyes’s successor also said he will explore other possible solutions such as changing the configuration of the Mindanao grid, which is now heavily reliant on hydroelectric power.

“There must be other alternatives that we can look at, whether geothermal or other coal based plants. There is clean technology in coal so one should not be heavily concerned,” Ibazeta said. (Jill Beltran/MSN/Sunnex)