Appellate court rejects PECO’s petition to stop expropriation

By Alena Mae S. Flores – October 25, 2019 at 08:40 pm

The Court of Appeals denied the bid of Panay Electric Co. to stop the expropriation of its distribution assets in Iloilo City by More Electric and Power Corp., the new franchise holder and distributor in the city.

In a resolution penned by CA Associate Justice Alfredo Ampuan, the 18th Division based in Cebu junked PECO’s petition for a temporary restraining order against the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court, and another petition for a writ of preliminary injunction against the same court, after it ordered the expropriation of PECO’s distribution assets by MORE.

“The court does not see an urgent and paramount necessity for the preliminary injunctive writ to prevent serious damage,” the ruling said.

“PECO’s perception of bias on the part of the court a quo does not also give a clear and unmistakable right to have the proceedings suspended until the Supreme Court resolves the petition for transfer of venue,” it said.

PECO wanted the case to be transferred to any court in Manila.
The other members of the CA’s 18th Division, Associate Justices Edgardo Delos Santos and Marilyn Lagura-Yap.

The CA justices said there was no damage to PECO’s business after Congress granted the DU franchise to MORE instead of to PECO.

.“And as long as MORE has a valid legislative franchise, it may exercise the power of eminent domain as provided for under Section 23 of the EPIRA (Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001),” the court said.

It said under RA 9136, only the Supreme Court could stop the implementation of any portion of EPIRA, including the power of eminent domain by DUs in their franchise areas.

The CA also said there was no truth to PECO’s claim that expropriation of its distribution assets would plunge Iloilo City into blackouts. It said MORE had assured it would not happen by expropriating PECO’s distribution assets as the new DU franchise holder.

The CA said assuming that it had jurisdiction over the case, PECO still failed to prove damage to its business since the job of distributing electricity in Iloilo had been given by Congress to MORE.

“PECO’s contentions fail to convince us to grant its prayer for temporary injunctive relief,” the court said.