By Genalyn D. Kabiling
Young entrepreneur Leandro Leviste so impressed President Duterte because of the former’s “vision, willpower and intellect” that the Chief Executive said Leviste could be a presidential bet in the 2022 elections.
The President, heaping praises on entrepreneur LeandroLeviste during the launch of his solar panel factory in Batangas, fondly declared: “Senadora Loren, may kandidato na ako ng Presidente (sa) 2022 [Senator Loren, I have a presidential candidate in 2022]. Does it sound nice: President Leandro Leviste?” the President said at the start of his speech during the inauguration of the Solar Philippines factory in Sto. Tomas, Batangas, last Wednesday.
After listening to Leviste’s plans about his solar energy company, the President described him as a “semi Donald Trump” but still needed to learn to fire off invectives to help “discipline” Filipinos.
“Ang bunganga parang semi-Trump pati… ang kulang na lang ‘yung p****** i** [He speaks like a semi-Trump. What he lacks is the skill to cuss, he said, eliciting laughter and applause from the crowd. Trump was a real estate businessman before his rise to the US presidency.
“Ang Pilipinas po, without the cussing, hindi mo ma-disiplina. The nature of the Filipino, puro pilosopo at mas marunong talaga (kaysa) sa Presidente [The Philippines cannot be disciplined without uttering cusses. The nature of the Filipino is that there are many argumentative and know-it-all persons],” he said.
In rooting for young Leviste to become the country’s future leader, Duterte introduced Senator Legarda as the “incoming First Mother” during his speech. He said the woman senator is “very lucky” to have a “visionary” son.
“I think they’ll just have to give up your plans in favor of — mas dito, pabor ako sa — kay Leandro. Eh marunong eh [I’m in favor of Leandro. He’s intelligent] and you are very lucky,” he told the senator.
“You have a son who is visionary and who has the will. Eh ‘yan ang importante diyan eh [That’s important]. Your vision and your will to do it, to implement it,” he added.
Leviste, who studied at Yale University, launched the integrated solar power installation, financing and development company a few years ago. Solar Philippines is among the first local companies that manufacture solar panels in the country.
In his remarks, the Solar Philippines founder claimed that the new factory would help generate the lowest cost power in the country’s history.
Leviste said the company has proposed to electric utilities to replace fossil fuel plants with solar farms that can produce 5,000 megawatts of power. “Filipinos can save 30 percent on electricity,” he added.
Solar Philippines also intends to work with communities to establish their “solar power associations” to avail of low-cost power.
Leviste said the new factory, which will produce 2.5 million solar panels a year, is expected to generate 50,000 jobs, from manufacturing to installation.