MANILA, Philippines — After 22 years as a public servant, Energy Secretary Raphael Lotilla is bidding goodbye to government service, wanting to pursue more “intellectual” endeavors.
In one of his most candid interviews yet, Lotilla said that in his more than two decades in government — particularly during his two years as energy czar — he had not been able to perform much mental calisthenics.
The pressure of having to jump from one issue to another, he said, deprived him of whatever “intellectual depth” government service could afford.
“I want to have more time for that kind of thinking. In government, you don’t have the luxury of time to think that deeply,” he said. “I would like to end my vow of poverty and all the ancillary vows that come with it.”
A bachelor, Lotilla’s frugal nature has been a source of both awe and amusement to energy industry players — and reporters.
He is said to have no TV set at home, making him one of Manila Electric Co.’s (Meralco’s) lifeline customers, or those using less than 100 kilowatt-hours of electricity a month.
Wednesday’s announcement of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s acceptance of his resignation actually did not come as a surprise to Lotilla.
“I don’t recall when exactly I found out, but I’ve known for some days now,” he said.
Speaking before more than 200 people at the League of Corporate Foundation’s CSR Expo 2007, he somehow preempted the Malacañang announcement by hinting at leaving the Department of Energy.
“I’m sure my successor will do a good job in ensuring that all the reforms that have been put in place will be sustained,” he said during his speech.
Shortly after answering some questions from the floor, the organizers announced the arrival of Environment Secretary Angelo Reyes — Lotilla’s replacement.
Neither of the men acknowledged each other’s presence, even if they were within less than a meter of each other.
Not even a glance was exchanged.
Vacation and exercise
Talking to reporters later, Lotilla was still in a jovial mood, saying he was ready to take a much needed break.
“The first item on my agenda is to go to Palawan. I haven’t gone to Palawan for the last two years, since I became energy secretary,” he said. “And I also haven’t been able to exercise regularly. I’ve actually put on some weight. So that’s what I’m going to do.”
He was silent on what his plans for his professional life, saying only that he was still willing to help the government as best as he could — and if asked.
“It does not mean that I will not assist the government where I can. It’s just full-time government service that I’m taking a break from,” he said.
June 18, the day when heads of government-owned or -controlled corporations were asked to submit courtesy resignations, was not the first time Lotilla attempted to exit from the government.
“I’ve been resigning for years. It was only now that it was approved,” he revealed. “I’ve always wanted to take a vacation, as I only intended to stay with the national government for two years. But after President Ramos’ term, I was requested to at least help out the new government.”
Talk that National Power Corp. (Napocor) president Cyril del Callar would also be replaced surfaced again, following Lotilla’s resignation.
According to the industry grapevine, either former Philippine National Police chief Arturo Lomibao or former Joint Congressional Power Commission chair and Lanao del Norte Rep. Alipio Cirilo Badelles would take Del Callar’s place.