By MYRNA M. VELASCO – January 17, 2020, 10:00 PM
from Manila Bulletin
As the scuffle between two companies claiming service jurisdiction over Iloilo City intensifies, the Department of Energy (DOE) said it is closely monitoring power supply situation in the area so the consumers will not end up taking collateral damage in the legal tug-of-war between Panay Electric Company (PECO) and More Electric Power Corporation of the Razon group.
DOE Director Mario C. Marasigan noted that one major concern they have been focusing on is ensuring that Iloilo City’s supply will not be disrupted especially during the summer months when power demand would be hitting peak.
The energy official qualified that the dilemma of electricity service in Iloilo is not on supply, but “it’s on the operations of PECO plus their legal concerns with More.”
PECO’s public utility franchise expired in January 2019, but it was able to continue operating its distribution facilities on the strength of a certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) that was granted by the Energy Regulatory Commission.
The entity granted with franchise by Congress to distribute and serve the electricity needs of Iloilo City is More Electric, but its entry into serving the area is still legally impeded because of several pending judicial cases.
Marasigan said “DOE is closely monitoring the situation in Iloilo and we have to ensure no disruption of services,” although this early, he qualified that power supply shortage won’t certainly be a factor.
Just recently, the Supreme Court has denied the petition of PECO to have the expropriation case filed by More Electric to be moved outside of Iloilo City.
The high court primarily junked PECO’s plea to have the hearings on the expropriation case be transferred to any court in Metro Manila, or as an alternative, to have it consolidated with another pending case at the Mandaluyong regional trial court – the latter of which is questioning the Constitutionality of the expropriation powers bequeathed to the Razon group by Congress.
The SC had thumbed down PECO’s premise that public scrutiny could affect the judge handling the expropriation case, with it stressing that “the mere possibility of prejudice is not sufficient to justify a transfer of venue, as aptly argued by respondent MORE.”
The high court similarly stipulated that PECO failed to present “adequate proof that the accompanying publicity may cause prejudice to it.”