Several energy sector players have questioned the appointment of Astravel Naik as undersecretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) with the Duterte administration having less than a year left.
Based on a Manila Bulletin report, the stakeholders believe that the appointment was politically motivated with Naik said to have no experience in the energy sector.
In her social media post dated July 21, Naik announced that she took her oath of office as undersecretary before Energy Sec. Alfonso Cusi, but energy stakeholders reacted with a not-so-warm welcome.
Her previous experiences had been with the Commission on Overseas Filipinos as executive director and with administration party PDP-Laban as head of its membership committee.
Naik will act as the DOE’s liaison officer with Congress and for the government’s rural electrification program. However, it later hinted that she would serve as “CFO,” but the department has not given any details yet on what that will stand for.
A newly designated energy official is usually announced formally by the agency or the Office of the President, being the appointing authority.
Naik was previously expelled from PDP-Laban, along with Cusi and National Transmission Corporation President Atty. Melvin Matibag by the camp of Sen. Manny Pacquiao. Her expulsion was later overturned when Pacquiao was ousted and Cusi became party president on July 17.
New energy officials usually spend their first year in office knowing the ins and outs of the sector, which is why it is seen that Naik’s appointment may be a waste of taxpayer’s money and that could have been used as additional funding for the country’s COVID-19 vaccination program or financial aid to Filipinos.
The DOE did not comment on the concerns of industry stakeholders.
Under Cusi’s leadership, the DOE has the most number of undersecretaries, with eight officials occupying the post compared to just three in past administrations.
Image from Astra Naik’s FB page.