Asia-Pacific News

The Philippines is aiming for an energy boom with Duterte's latest reform

Yvonne Lim

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's latest attempt to reform the Philippine economy is a major change for the energy industry there.

The Philippines, one of the fastest growing economies in Asia, could see a host of new energy projects coming online after Duterte changed the approval system from a multi-year gantlet to a 30-day process.

Speaking with CNBC on Tuesday, Philippine Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi said that energy project approvals used to take up to three years, and he explained that the shift was meant to hasten the expansion of the nation's power capacity to meet growing demand.

"Because of the need, we have to build our capacity fast," Cusi said. "So in 30 days, investors can be assured that they can implement the project."

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Erik De Castro | Reuters

Applications not processed within the given time frame, the energy secretary said, will be considered approved.

Duterte signed the order on June 28, establishing the inter-agency Energy Investment Coordinating Council, which is tasked with simplifying and streamlining the approval process of big-ticket projects.

Those projects, identified collectively as Energy Projects of National Significance, may range from power generation to transmission or related services. To qualify, they must each have a capital investment of at least 3.5 billion Philippine pesos ($69 million), significant contribution to economic development and complex technical processes and engineering designs.

Further, Cusi said the Philippines has adopted a "technology neutral" approach and included renewable sources of energy such as geothermal, hydro, solar and wind in the power producing mix.

"We (have not placed) any preference on any technology because we need to build up our capacity and we have to do it fast," he said.