Philippine leader retains minister despite resignation

Philippine leader retains minister despite resignation

MANILA - Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Thursday refused to accept the resignation of his energy minister after he failed to restore power fully to areas devastated by Super Typhoon Haiyan.

Aquino told Energy Secretary Jericho Petilla that he would be retaining him, citing his "excellent performance", despite Petilla's previous offer to resign, said presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda.

Petilla had previously said he would step down if he did not restore power to towns flattened by Super Typhoon Haiyan by Christmas Eve.

On Wednesday he told Lacierda he would file his resignation after failing to meet his target in several towns.

But Aquino said experts had previously estimated that it would take as long as six months fully to restore power to the towns devastated by Haiyan on November 8, said Lacierda.

"The president noted that foreign observers who have seen work being done... in comparison to disasters of lesser magnitude in other countries, pointed out that repair and rehabilitation of energy infrastructure was done faster," Lacierda added.

The typhoon, one of the strongest to ever hit land, left almost 8,000 dead or missing in one of the worst natural disasters in Philippine history.

While power has been restored in a few selected areas of the affected towns, many districts still have no electricity after the storm tore down power lines across a wide area.

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