CA deliberations on Lotilla’s DOE appointment deferred again
MANILA, Philippines – A Commission on Appointments (CA) panel has again suspended the confirmation of Raphael Lotilla as Energy Secretary as he has yet to answer more policy questions to be raised by SAGIP Rep. Rodante Marcoleta.
The CA energy panel resumed deliberations on the ad interim appointment of Lotilla on Tuesday after it was suspended last Wednesday, Nov. 29, due to lack of time.
For the same reason, Lotilla’s confirmation hearing was deferred upon the suggestion of Marcoleta, who said he still had more questions to ask about the Department of Energy’s (DOE) expected direction with Lotilla at its helm.
“There’s still a length of policy questions. That’s why I am conferring with the chairman if the secretary can return tomorrow and if he can be accommodated,” he said, speaking in a mix of English and Filipino.
Marcoleta earlier sounded the alarm about Lotilla’s stance on the rising cost of electric rates, particularly when the DOE chief said he “draws the line between policy-making and economic regulation.”
“I am a little bit unsettled by this answer because it seems to me that the hands of the secretary are tied simply because he’s trying to draw a line between himself and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), citing the independence of the ERC from the DOE based on Electric Power Industry Reform Act (Epira) Act,” he said.
Marcoleta pressed for Lotilla to cross the line he had earlier drawn, citing provisions of the Epira law, which ensures that public interest prevails in setting and making affordable the rates and services of electric utilities and power providers.
Lotilla maintained that the ERC “cannot be interfered with” on matters of rate-setting, but he noted that this “does not mean the DOE cannot issue policy as clarified by the Supreme Court and therefore, we’ll be able to address a number of issues affecting our fellow Filipinos.”
But among those he said the DOE can do to address soaring power rates are leveling out the playing field to attract more competition and investments, and improving the ability of distribution utilities to manage power supply agreements.
Directed toward Lotilla, Marcoleta raised more heaps of questions and concerns on several other energy-related issues before he sought to defer the Energy Secretary’s confirmation hearing.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri then asked for a minute suspension and upon its resumption, Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, who chairs the committee, said the continuation of Lotilla’s confirmation hearing would be scheduled for Wednesday.
CA Majority Leader Luis Raymund Villafuerte floated the official motion to defer deliberations on Lotilla’s ad interim appointment, which no one objected to.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.