DOJ clears Popo Lotilla’s return as DOE chief: Aboitiz stint ain’t basis for disqualification

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has given the green light for Raphael Perpetuo “Popo” Lotilla’s return as Energy Secretary after a close scrutiny of a law governing appointments to the top post.

In a statement, the DOJ said Lotilla’s nomination as head of the Department of Energy “is valid and lawful.”


Republic Act No. 7638 or the Department of Energy Act of 1992 prohibits a revolving-door type of appointment as Energy chief. The DOJ ruled, however, that Lotilla being an “independent director” of Aboitiz Power Corp. did not disqualify him for the position.

“In accordance with the subsequent laws, namely, the Revised Corporation Code, Securities Regulations Code, and the Code of Corporate Governance, an independent director is not an officer based on the nature, duties, functions and responsibilities vis-à-vis the corporation he serves. It is sui generis in character,” said Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin “Boying” Remulla.

The DOJ chief noted that even the articles and by-laws of Aboitiz Power Corporation and Ace Enexor where Lotilla served as an independent director “adopt the statutory concept of an independent director.”

“Thus, it is clear that an independent director like Lotilla does not fall within the proscription under Section 8 of R.A. No. 9638 against an officer, external auditor, accountant, or legal counsel of any private company or enterprise primarily engaged in the energy industry,” he said.

Lotilla first served as Energy Secretary under the Arroyo administration.