Petilla: Power restored in Yolanda-hit areas

MANILA, Philippines - Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla said Tuesday, December 24, power has been restored "100%" in all areas affected by Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan). And so he will keep his post.

In a phone interview with Rappler, Petilla said his department has met its self-imposed deadline to restore power in Yolanda-hit areas before Christmas.

If many households in these areas still don't have electricity, that's not his problem, he said. Connecting local households to power sources is the responsibility of local government units, Petilla added. (READ: Dark Christmas for Yolanda survivors)

Petilla earlier vowed to resign should the Department of Energy (DOE) fail to restore power in all areas devastated by Yolanda by Christmas eve.

"Do you want my position if I don't make it by December 24? You will have it…. I'll submit my resignation if that is what you want," Petilla told reporters in Palo, Leyte,  last November 18.

On Tuesday, Petilla said: “If we are talking about towns and municipalities, then power has been restored 100%."

The last 5 municipalites of Eastern Samar that remained disconnected from the grid have been energized dawn of December 24, according to Petilla. These are Lawaan, Guiuan, Balangiga, Quinapondan, and Giporlos, all in Eastern Samar.

Petilla, however, pointed out that while all towns and municapilities have been connected to the grid, some houses are still without electricity.

Ask your LGUs

“On a grid level it has been restored. This means that power supply and access to it are ready. But whether your house can connect to power lines will depend on whether the electrical [system] of the house can accept the power,” he said.

“I said that we (DOE) will restore power in your areas. But assessing whether houses are ready to  accept and connect to power sources is the responsibility of the  local government units, the Bureau of Fire Protection, the mayor,“ Petilla added.

In a press briefing  on Tuesday, Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma said that President Benigno Aquino III did not discuss the possible resignation of Petilla during the President’s recent visit to Leyte last Sunday, December 22.

“According to reports, power has been restored in majority of the areas stricken by the calamity. This issue ( power restoration) was not even discussed during his visit,” Coloma said.

No power in Tacloban?

Petilla is also wondering why Tacloban Mayor Alfredo Romualidez is claiming that power has not been restored in his city.

“Power has been restored in Tacloban two weeks ago. Business establishments in fact have been operating since power is already back," he stressed. Only Romualdez is complaining, he said.

“Among all the LGUs, it is only the mayor of Tacloban who is complaining. I’m just waiting for him to say that I should resign from my post since power in Tacloban has not been fully restored, “ he said.

Petilla said politics is probably the reason for this. “He comes from a different political camp. Probably he considers that power has not been restored in his city unless his house has power already," he said.

Petilla, former governor of Leyte and member of the ruling Liberal Party, was appointed by President Aquino to head the DOE in 2012.

Both Romualdez and Petilla come from political clans in the province of Leyte. Prior to his appointment to the DOE, Petilla had considered running for Congress against  Romualdez’s cousin Ferdinand.

The Tacloban mayor and the President  also had traded barbs shortly after the storm, after the President said the city did not prepare for Yolanda.

The squabble intensified after a video that showed Interior and Local Secretary Mar Roxas asking Romualdez to sign a document that would turn over control of the city to the national government. - Rappler.com