Aboitiz announces Lotilla’s resignation

Aboitiz Power Corp. has announced Thursday the resignation of independent director Raphael “Popo” Lotilla, who has been nominated as the next energy secretary.

In a disclosure, Aboitiz cited the “nomination and appointment to government position” as the reason for Lotilla’s resignation effective July 11, 2022.

Lotilla, who was earlier named as the next Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary, was cleared by the justice department of any violation prohibiting an officer of an energy company from being appointed to the post.

Aside from being an independent director of AboitizPower, Lotilla also holds the same position at ACE Enexor.

The Department of Justice on Thursday said Lotilla can be appointed as DOE Secretary. It said that Lotilla does not fall within the prohibition under Sec. 8 of the DOE law: “No officer, external auditor, accountant, or legal counsel of any private company or enterprise primarily engaged in the energy industry shall be eligible for appointment as Secretary within two years from his retirement, resignation, or separation therefrom.”

“The novel concept of an ‘independent director’ was not contemplated by Republic Act No. 7638… In accordance with the subsequent laws, namely, the Revised Corporation Code, Securities Regulations Code, and the Code of Corporate Governance, an independent director is not an officer based on the nature, duties, functions and responsibilities vis-a-vis the corporation he serves. It is sui generis in character,” the DOJ declared.

Industry stakeholders welcomed Lotilla’s nomination, saying he is the “perfect fit” to replace Alfonso Cusi.

The Philippine Independent Power Producers Association (PIPPA) said it recognizes Lotilla’s invaluable leadership and decades-long contribution to the Philippine energy industry.

Lotilla previously served as DOE secretary from 2005 to 2007.

“PIPPA believes that his experience and in-depth knowledge of the energy sector makes him the best candidate in this crucial time.  Our member companies extend our hand in cooperation to Mr. Lotilla, in our joint objective to build greater energy security, affordability, and sustainability for the Filipino people,” said PIPPA.

AC Energy Corp. President Eric Francia said Lotilla’s extensive experience in the energy sector will be “valuable in helping steer the country amidst the challenging energy landscape,” adding that the energy sector needs to deal the global energy crisis in the short term, and the energy transition imperative in the medium- to long-term.

San Miguel Corp. President Ramon Ang commented in a text message that Lotilla’s nomination is “very good.”

DMCI Holdings, Inc. President Isidro Consunji said via text message that Lotilla is “competent and honest”.

Former Energy Secretary Vince Pérez and current chairman of Alternergy group of companies said Lotilla is “an excellent choice” for Energy Secretary. “He is most qualified, is very familiar with the challenges facing the energy sector. Furthermore, he is a man of integrity and a true professional.  We look forward to working with him during this challenging period of energy transition”.

Consumer group advocate People for Power Coalition (P4P) said while it is aware of Lotilla’s “expertise,” it is still concerned that “given his ties to the power sector, he may not be coming in as an honest broker and is instead a Trojan horse for corporate interests,” said P4P convenor Gerry Arances.

“The next DOE Secretary must be pro-consumer. Once appointed, Lotilla or any other nominee will deal with astronomically high power rates for consumers due to our reliance on fossil fuels such as coal and gas, especially now that we see the country being transformed into a natural gas hub that locks us with high power rates for decades to come,” said Arances.


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