Osmeña: No plan to tackle Petilla confirmation

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Thursday, June 5, 2014

SENATOR Sergio Osmeña III on Thursday stood firm on his decision not to schedule Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla for a confirmation hearing at the powerful bicameral Commission on Appointments (CA).

Instead of rejecting Petilla in the CA, Osmeña admitted that it was a "tactical move" for him not to schedule the Secretary's confirmation.

"Malacanang controls the vote in the CA. It is very hard to get a reject vote," said Osmeña, chairperson of the CA's energy committee.


He said the CA will not displease Malacanang but maintained that it is about time that the Palace considers the welfare of the Filipino people.

Osmeña said Petilla's poor performance is driving away investors.

"This is a potential loss. Government is supposed to facilitate, orchestrate and make sure that everything is perfect for the investors," the senator added.

Osmeña said the present problems on energy is a manifestation of how ineffective the Secretary of Energy as he cited the numerous complaints reaching his office.

"I feel that he has not been effective as Secretary of Energy. Ang mahirap sa Energy sector is that you will not know right away that there is a problem. It takes five years for the problems to show up," he said.

Osmena earlier warned of widespread brownouts in Metro Manila and Luzon in the next years as traditional power plants such as coal, hydro and goethermal usually take around five years to complete.

"So, sa ngayon kung anumang uumpisahan nilang power plant will only be felt by 2019. So there's a big lag time at syempre ang reaksyon muna ng tao 'Uy, nasaan 'yung power? Bakit nagkulang ngayon ng power?' Hindi naman tayo pwede bumili ng Eveready battery na isasaksak natin sa mga generating plants," Osmeña said.

Osmeña blamed mismanagement at the Department of Energy headed by Petilla for the thin power reserves, noting that there have always been investors wanting to put up new power plants.

"The work of the DOE is always to anticipate the problem. While he is still sitting as a department secretary, I want to see him be more effective in his job and to pay more attention to the problems that our country is facing not only today but for the next five years," Osmena said.

Osmeña said the problem of Petilla and his leadership is about his way of management.

"I have to tell you, I meet once in a while with the stakeholders also to get their 'feel' for what is happening. We are going to have a real problem here in Luzon in 2017, 2018. Okay, so we cannot use power two hours a day or three hours a day. But my most serious concern is that the investors know what will happen and so they will wait. So, instead of building their factory today and give more jobs to our people, they will wait until 2019 or 2020. So, we will have a potential loss. And this is not what we are supposed to do," Osmeña said.

Osmeña said the government is supposed to facilitate, orchestrate, and make sure that everything is perfect for the investors.

"We have to create a friendly environment for the investors. Para every year, every month pwede sila papasok dito. This is the concern I am trying to drive at," he said.

Osmeña said the postponement of the hearing is a clear message for the government to be conscious of what is really happening and to do what is expected from them.

"The more I postpone the hearing, the more I am telling the government, “you are not getting your act together.” the senator said.

The senator said he is praying that power plants currently being built will not face any problem that will delay their completion.

"Ang kailangan po nila maging proactive, you have to plan 5, 10 and 15 years in advance at wala po silang plano," Osmeña said.

He slammed Malacanang for not listening and for continuously ignoring his position on the matter.

"I already asked the President to change secretary Petilla. Ngayon, nagsalita yung mga malalaking generating sector na what's happening, bakit ganito nangyayari sila naman ang nagpo-produce ng power and then hinihingi nila sa Presidente 'Can you please give us your plans, what's the irrigated terms?' In other words, wala kayong plans. That is the situation today and I'm totally unhappy about the performance of the energy department," Osmeña said.

The senator said this is not the first time that President Benigno Aquino III ignored his recommendation citing the case of Beijing Ambassador Domingo Lee who failed to do his job at the height of the Bajo de Masinloc issue or otherwise known as the Spratly issue.

"Palace did not reject Lee. It was only when Spratly happened that President Aquino realized that he needed a professional in Beijing. I think I proved it," he said. (Camille P. Balagtas/Sunnex)

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