By Myrna M. Velasco
President Rodrigo Duterte has already given his go-signal on the resignation of National Renewable Energy Board (NREB) Chairman Jay M. Layug, hence, candidates for his replacement had also been submitted already in Malacañang, according to Energy Secretary Alfonso G. Cusi.
With him exiting the RE body effective April 30 this year, Cusi indicated that Layug’s tenure as member of the transition committee of the Philippine Electricity Market Corporation (PEMC), the market operator arm of the Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM), will also end.
Fundamentally, he will bow out from the WESM transition team at least two months ahead of the June 30 extended tenure of the committee.
In his official resignation letter, Layug cited “health reasons” as his justification in quitting the NREB post, but when Cusi announced it to the media, he noted the former’s intention of “just staying for one year” at NREB.
Nevertheless, contrary to official pronouncements to the media, the real reason for his resignation had already been swirling around in business and industry circles in the past three weeks – that more than “health” or “willingness to stay” basis, the actual reason was actually deeper than what was being stated publicly.
Almost all sectors and sub-segments of the industry have been aware of the spat that had grown between Layug and Cusi’s team, allegedly due to the suspected links of the outgoing NREB chief to a “wicked agitprop” intending to damage the reputation of the current energy sector leadership as well as some players in the industry.
Cusi noted “in fairness to him, he told me from the very start that he will just stay for one year,” with the energy chief even easing media incredulousness when he said that “in fact, I even offered him before to join my team,” of course, with the energy chief emphasizing that: “That was before.”
At this stage though, Cusi said he never made any attempt to stop him from his resignation even considering the fact that it is not irrevocable, “because he wants to go back to law practice.”
Layug’s exit from NREB, he added, “will not delay any of the pending works of the Board, because that’s just an advisory body, it’s not a line agency.”
Layug started his stint at the multi-stakeholder RE body in January 2017 and that should have lapsed earlier this year, hence, it is apparent that he had already stayed longer than anticipated.
Prior to his government service term at NREB, Layug was formerly an undersecretary of the Department of Energy for the petroleum and renewable energy sector.