QUEZON CITY, July 15, 2022 – International climate and energy policy group Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities (ICSC) welcomed the nomination of Raphael “Popo” Lotilla as the next secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) and Ma. Antonia “Toni” Yulo-Loyzaga as the next secretary of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in the Marcos Jr. administration’s Cabinet.
Lotilla, whose nomination was announced Monday, previously served as energy secretary from 2005 to 2007 and as deputy secretary general of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA). He is currently a law professor at the University of the Philippines. Aboitiz Power, where Lotilla served as independent director, announced his resignation yesterday, citing his nomination for the government position as the main reason.
Yulo-Loyzaga, whose nomination was announced Tuesday, was executive director of the Manila Observatory (MO) for nine years and currently chairperson of MO’s International Advisory Board “where she worked to advance more scientific research on climate and disaster resilience.” She also served as technical adviser of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation.
Reacting to Lotilla’s nomination, ICSC senior policy advisor Atty. Pedro H. Maniego Jr. said:
“Lotilla’s nomination as the next secretary of the DOE is a good choice, as he is competent to lead the industry and noted for his integrity. His appointment is very urgent due to the many serious problems facing the Philippine power sector – the insufficient power supply mainly due to the prolonged shutdowns of several coal fired power plants, the intermittent breakdowns of several coal fired power plants, and the derating of natural gas power plants caused by Malampaya gas supply restrictions.
“However, his current affiliations as independent director in energy firms must be resolved. If Lotilla is appointed as DOE secretary, we expect him to put on top his responsibilities as head of the agency in accordance with the DOE Act. As the next energy secretary, we urge him to make the coal moratorium permanent to affirm the country’s commitment to clean energy as envisioned in our Nationally Determined Contribution under the Paris Agreement. As evidenced by decades of insufficient, expensive and unreliable power supply and compounded by the impacts of record fossil fuel prices recently, our over dependence on fossil fuel plants, particularly Coal Fired Power Plants (CFPPs), have proved to be economically disastrous. The lack of energy security for the past several decades has hampered our country’s development, with our ASEAN peers leaving us behind and graduating to the level of developed economies. The CFPPs, which were supposed to provide dependable base load supply, turned out to be the culprits in the recurring yellow and red alerts.
“Fossil fuel prices are expected to continue to spiral as there seems to be no end in sight to the Russian-Ukraine conflict. This would lead to higher electricity rates until the conflict and the resulting energy shortage are over. It is high time that we shift from the current centralized baseload centric regime to a distributed and flexible generation system, which will complement the variable but zero marginal costs of renewable energy sources. In addition, the automatic fuel cost pass-through on fossil fuel power plants, which completely transfers the fuel risks from the power producers to end users, should no longer be applied in all power supply agreements for a more affordable, reliable, and secure power system for all Filipinos.”
ICSC executive director Renato Redentor Constantino, in response to Yulo-Loyzaga’s nomination, said:
“We certainly welcome Ma. Antonia “Toni” Yulo-Loyzaga’s appointment. Her long leadership over the Manila Observatory bodes well for the bureaucracy, given her background in science and the way she values evidence and partnerships, ranging from the private sector to her advisory status with the AFP Command and General Staff College. This is a solid foundation which we trust she will augment with people of integrity, particularly those with expertise in biodiversity and sustainable development. It is also incredibly critical for DENR to focus on slow onset climate impacts. To the extent the DENR will work on disasters, let it be in terms of strategies that maximize synergies with food security, biodiversity, resilience, and the protection of community livelihoods, such as the aggressive promotion and protection of mangroves and specific trees indigenous to localities.
“Loyzaga must hit the ground running, because there is no time to waste in arresting the steady and accelerating degradation of the country’s environment. DENR has a lot of good people in the bureaucracy who are either demoralized or marginalized by poor and uninspired leadership. She needs to empower competent people and teams in the bureaucracy.
“There will also be key areas where expectations will remain high, or where disappointment can quickly creep in. For instance, we can’t even implement air quality standards that are almost two decades behind WHO benchmarks. Certainly, we think Toni will enjoy the support of environmental champions in the legislature, such as Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri and Senate Pro Tempore Loren Legarda.
“The DENR is a pretty big bureaucracy, which means passion alone will not suffice. She can expect unfettered support from civil society, but a dynamic sense of strategy and a level of fearlessness will be key, because we expect her to soon confront land grabbers and the massive army of lobbyists deployed by loggers and the extractives and chemical industries. Her leadership in ensuring attached bureaus are well-coordinated is crucial, because it will be a disservice to the Filipino people if the same agency will say yes to biodiversity conservation, climate resilience and adaptation, but will also allow continuous denudation of our forests and pollution of our air and waters.
“Under her helm, we hope the country can see a dramatic increase in the budget outlay for forest rangers and community stewards (bantay-bakawan, bantay-dagat), and law enforcement that actually protects our remaining green cover and our rivers, while ensuring the country’s biodiversity flourishes rather than being under constant siege of large scale private interests.”
The Institute for Climate and Sustainable Cities is a Manila-based climate and energy policy group advancing climate resilience and low carbon development.
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