Duterte approves franchise for solar firm of Loren Legarda's son
MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte approved the granting of a franchise to operate renewable energy facilities to a company owned by the son of Antique Representative Loren Legarda.
Republic Act No. 11357 provides a franchise to Solar Para Sa Bayan Corporation, founded by Legarda's son, Leandro Leviste.
Duterte signed the law on Wednesday, July 31, while the Palace released the document on Thursday, August 1.
The law allows the company to "construct, install, establish, operate, and maintain" distributed energy resources and microgrids to "underserved areas" in specific provinces in the Philippines.
These specific provinces include Aklan, Aurora, Bohol, Cagayan, Camiguin, Capiz, Compostela Valley, Palawan, and Quezon, among others.
With the granting of the franchise, Solar Para Sa Bayan commits to operate distributed energy resources and microgrids in the most cost-efficient manner and to do all it can to provide efficient and reliable services.
"We thank President Duterte for giving new choices for electricity to Filipinos in unserved and underserved areas," said Solar Para Sa Bayan in a statement on Thursday.
"We also wish to extend an olive branch to those who once opposed this bill, for us to support the [Department of Energy's] goal of achieving 100% electrification and ending energy poverty in the Philippines by 2022. It is time for us to join forces and work together for the common good," the company added.
Some lawmakers had opposed the bill, like Senator Panfilo Lacson, who previously said that granting Solar Para Sa Bayan a franchise might violate the Electric Power Industry Reform Act.
Leviste is personally known to Duterte through Legarda. The President had even graced the opening of his company's factory in Batangas and praised Leviste for his entrepreneurial spirit.
Legarda is regarded by Duterte as an ally. He has thanked her in the past for her work as chairperson of the Senate committee on finance, a critical position where she coordinated with Malacañang on budget concerns.
Duterte had at one point considered her as a possible social welfare secretary. – Rappler.com