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PRESIDENT RODRIGO R. Duterte has appointed lawyer Monalisa C. Dimalanta as the new chairperson of the National Renewable Energy Board (NREB), which serves as an advisory body to the Department of Energy (DoE).

Mr. Duterte signed the appointment papers of Ms. Dimalanta on March 28, a day before the Commission on Elections’ (Comelec) ban on appointments took effect. Copies of Ms. Dimalanta’s appointment papers were released to reporters on Monday, April 1.

According to her profile posted on the official website of asialaw, which produces news, information and rankings of law firms in the Asia-Pacific region, Ms. Dimalanta is a partner at the Puyat, Jacinto & Santos Law (PJS Law) firm.

“Monalisa leads the Energy Practice Group of PJS Law. Her expertise in the energy sector has made her the top choice as legal counsel to the major players (local and foreign) in the industry, as well as for new investors seeking to gain entry into this dynamic area of the Philippine economy. Her leadership in the energy practice group has earned the group and herself several international and Philippine awards/citations,” he profile reads. She is also “recognized as ‘Market Leader’ in the areas of Energy and Project Development and leading practitioner in the Asia-Pacific,” asialaw said.

Ms. Dimalanta replaces lawyer Jose M. Layug who resigned in April last year for “health reasons.”

Prior to Ms. Dimalanta’s official appointment, the NREB questioned House Bill 8179, which seeks to grant the Solar Para Sa Bayan Corp. a franchise to construct, install, establish, operate and maintain distributable power technologies and minigrid systems throughout the country. The House of Representatives approved the franchise last year.

Solar Para Sa Bayan Corp. is led by Senator Loren B. Legarda’s son, Leandro L. Leviste.

“The franchise bill in its current form may also have some inconsistencies with other provisions or mechanisms of the RE Act. In this regard, it is respectfully requested to have such amendments to align with the policies of the RE (Renewable Energy) Act, such as Renewable Portfolio Standards, and the Green Energy Option Program,” the Board said in its position paper.

“The franchise bill will further create a separate RE sector for the grantee, which prevents the grantee from undergoing CSP (competitive selection process) or complying with the requirements of RCOA (Retail Competition and Open Access), seems to be an unfair advantage of the grantee over other functionally similar RE developers,” it added.

In February, the Senate committees on public services and energy recommended the approval of a “non-exclusive” franchise for Mr. Leviste’s company. — Arjay L. Balinbin