More wins CA ruling against Peco

By Alena Mae S. Flores – March 29, 2019 at 08:50 pm

The Court of Appeals stopped the temporary restraining order issued by the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court in favor of Panay Electric Co., which prevented More Electric Power Corp. of magnate Enrique Razon Jr. from expropriating and taking over the assets of the power distributor in Iloilo City.

The appellate court issued its own TRO against the lower Mandaluyong court, citing issues of “transcendental importance.”

More filed a petition with the CA to set aside the Mandaluyong TRO that restrained it from enforcing Republic Act 11212 and proceeding with expropriation proceedings against Peco. More’s franchise under RA 11212 took effect on March 6, 2019, the same day that Peco filed an application for a TRO.

The Mandaluyong court also prevented the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission from issuing a certificate of public convenience and a provisional authority to Peco to operate in Peco’s franchise area.

The CA said it saw more than adequate grounds to grant the restraining order, citing that Peco’s franchise to operate an electricity distribution system in Iloio had already expired and that the franchise to operate the same area had been granted to More.More alleged that the Mandaluyong RTC committed grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

More also alleged that the court committed grave abuse when it held that the enforcement of Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 would materially and substantially invade Peco’s rights to equal protection under the law, due process and against unlawful taking of property.

It said the Mandaluyong court order derailed the implementation of the takeover of the distribution system in Iloilo City by More as the new franchise holder.

“Unless the respondent’s judge’s abusive conduct is immediately arrested, the residents of Iloilo City are deprived of better and cheaper electric service from More and will continue to suffer the poor service under Peco, and there is a real danger that electrical/electricity distribution in Iloilo City will be cut off/or at the least, disrupted,” More said.

More on March 11, 2019 filed a complaint for expropriation against Peco before the Iloilo City RTC on March 11, 2019.

Peco’s franchise expired on January 19 but the ERC and the DoE said Peco’s  certificate of public convenience and necessity of Peco was valid until May 25, which served as ERC and DoE’s legal basis in allowing the cooperative to continue operating in the area of Iloilo.