Aquino won't let Philippine energy secretary quit

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MANILA, Philippines (AP) - President Benigno Aquino III on Thursday rejected the Philippine energy secretary's offer to resign for failing to meet his self-imposed target to restore power in all typhoon-ravaged towns by Christmas Eve, an official said.

Aquino instead praised Jericho Petilla for "excellent performance" for re-energizing 317 of 320 towns that lost power after Typhoon Haiyan hit last month, presidential spokesman Edwin Lacierda said.

It was originally estimated it would take up to six months to restore power but Petilla managed to do most of the work in 40 days, he said.

Haiyan's ferocious wind and storm surges knocked down thousands of transmission towers and electric posts including in worst-hit Tacloban city in Leyte province, where a major geothermal plant was damaged, officials said.

Aquino said "he has no intention of losing the services of an honorable public servant," according to Lacierda.

While power has been restored to grids, many houses and businesses could not connect due to damaged wiring and toppled electric posts. As a result, many people spent Christmas in the dark, including in Tacloban, where only a few downtown streets had lights working.

The Nov. 8 typhoon killed at least 6,100 people in the central Philippines, displaced at least 4 million others and left its most gruesome mark on Tacloban, a city of 240,000 that will need years to recover.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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