Passion and Philosophy: Atty. Ray C. Espinosa

As the newly-appointed president and chief executive officer of a company as prominent as the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), Atty. Ray C. Espinosa is taking on an incredible number of responsibilities. And yet, no other individual is as likely to own up to the task.

The first of many responsibilities is filling in the shoes left by his predecessor. According to a disclosure to the Philippine Stock Exchange dated Jan. 28, Mr. Espinosa was appointed by Meralco’s board of directors to replace Oscar S. Reyes who retired effective May 28.

According to a BusinessWorld report published on Jan. 30, while Mr. Reyes did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Mr. Espinosa’s appointment as well as his plans after retirement, Meralco Senior Vice-President Alfredo S. Panlilio described Mr. Reyes’ performance in the past nine years as “stellar.”

Mr. Reyes was Meralco’s president and CEO from May 29, 2012 to May 28, 2019. Prior to that, he was the company’s chief operating officer from July 1, 2010 to May 28, 2012.

“The numbers will show it. I guess there is always a time to move on and I guess this was the right time for OSR,” he had said in a text message, referring to Mr. Reyes’ initials.

“We welcome the entry of Ray and look forward to working with him in bringing Meralco to the next level,” said Mr. Panlilio, who also heads Meralco’s customer retail services and corporate communications. Mr. Panlilio was recently named as PLDT’s chief revenue officer.

With such a legacy to fulfill, it is fortunate that Mr. Espinosa is among those with the most experience at Meralco. He has been with the country’s largest power distributor since May 26, 2009, and his appointment as its head marks his 10-year career at the company. He had also been Meralco’s general counsel since Dec. 15, 2009, and has served as head of the finance committee of the company’s board.

Another responsibility of Mr. Espinosa as Meralco’s head is ensuring that the company successfully transitions into its new 50-year corporate life from May 7, 2019. The listed utility, which counts about 6.5 million customers within its franchise area, secured a term extension from the Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 19 last year.

There has never been a more important time for the company. As the world slowly shifts into cleaner, more efficient sources of energy, Meralco has taken it upon itself to take the lead in taking the country to the future.

Most recently, Meralco announced that it is preparing a 1,000-megawatt pipeline of renewable energy projects that will go online over the next five to seven years.

“Meralco is committed to developing large-scale renewable energy projects that can deliver competitive electricity for our customers, without any requirement for subsidy or support, while keeping environmental stewardship and sustainability as top priorities in our business,” Mr. Espinosa was quoted in a statement.

The company aims to bring in additional supply to further the Philippines’ growth and help ensure the availability of green and cost-competitive power supply in the coming years.

Such a massive undertaking will undoubtedly need the leadership of someone like Mr. Espinosa. Based on Meralco’s latest information statement which it filed with Philippine Stock Exchange in April last year, Mr. Espinosa finished Bachelor of Science in General Studies at the University of Sto. Tomas, Bachelor of Laws at the Ateneo de Manila University and Master of Laws at the University of Michigan Law School.

Among his many accomplishments are his terms as a board member of four listed companies, namely: PLDT, Inc.; Metro Pacific Investments Corp.; Lepanto Consolidated Mining Corp.; and Roxas Holdings, Inc.

Mr. Espinosa was also chairman of Philstar Daily, Inc. and BusinessWorld Publishing Corp.; president of Mediaquest Holdings, Inc.; chief corporate services officer of PLDT; and head of PLDT’s regulatory affairs and policy office. He also served as trustee of the Beneficial Trust Fund of PLDT and head government and regulatory affairs and head communications bureau for the Philippines of First Pacific Group.

His other board memberships were Smart Communications, Inc.; Maybank Philippines, Inc.; First Pacific Co., Ltd.; Mediaquest Holdings, Inc.; Cignal TV. Inc.; First Agri Holdings, Inc.; First Coconut Manufacturing, Inc.; Philippine Telecommunications Investment Corp.; Metro Pacific Resources, Inc.; Meralco PowerGen Corp.; and TV5 Network, Inc.

A writeup about Mr. Espinosa in Meralco’s corporate governance report says this about him: “He was a partner of SyCip Salazar Hernandez & Gatmaitan from 1982 to 2000, a foreign associate at Covington and Burling (Washington D.C., USA) from 1987 to 1988, and a law lecturer at the Ateneo de Manila School of Law from 1983 to 1985 and 1989. He ranked first in the 1982 Philippine Bar examination.”

It is clear then, that as far as experience and expertise go, Meralco is in good hands. — Bjorn Biel M. Beltran