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Duterte ribs billionaire DOE chief Cusi: You can retire if you want

President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday ribbed Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi for being wealthy, saying the former airport manager need not serve in government after his wealth hit the P1-billion mark last year.

Cusi is the second richest member of Duterte's Cabinet, declaring a net worth of P1.35 billion for last year. His wealth increased by P1.19 billion from 2016 when he declared a net worth of P162.7 million.

Aware of this development, Duterte teased Cusi to consider retirement.

"Alam mo Al, you do not need this job really. Nakita ko 'yung SALN [Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Net Worth] mo. If I were you, you can retire if you want," the President said in a speech during the inauguration of a coal-fired power plant in Pagbilao, Quezon.

"He used to be [the] MIAA [Manila International Airport Authority general manager] but before that, he was really a prosperous businessman," he added.

Turning serious, the President thanked the Department of Energy and Aboitiz Power Corp. for working together to make the Pagbilao energy venture possible.

“This event reaffirms not only the government’s commitment to empower our citizens into proactive agents of social transformation, but also the private sector’s crucial role in augmenting our local industries,” Duterte said.

Valued at $976 million, the 420-megawatt Pagbilao Unit 3 plant is expected to provide steady supply of electricity to the Luzon grid.

Duterte encouraged private energy producers to find viable solutions that will deliver reliable and inexpensive electricity to homes and industries.

“This administration has been clear about safeguarding our environment [for] future generations. We intend to have more compliant companies and power plants that prevent damage and reduce emission from harmful effects in the years to come,” he said.

The new power plant is a joint venture between TPEC Holdings Corp. and Therma Power Inc., which are wholly owned subsidiaries of TeaM Energy Corp. (TEC) and Aboitiz Power, respectively.

Located near the Pagbilao Units 1 and 2, the construction works for the Pagbilao Unit 3 started in December 2014. The Pagbilao Units 1 and 2 have a total generating capacity of 735 megawatts. — MDM, GMA News