Mandaluyong court stops More from taking over Peco

By Alena Mae S. Flores – March 13, 2019 at 08:50 pm

The Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order preventing More Electric Power Corp. from expropriating and taking over the distribution assets of Panay Electric Co.

Mandaluyong RTC Branch 209 judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio said facts showed “there is no other ordinary, speedy and adequate remedy to prevent the infliction of irreparable injury to Peco except through the issuance of the TRO.

”The court directed Peco to file within five days from the issuance of the decision dated March 12 to post a P5-million bond.It enjoined More from enforcing, implementing and exercising any rights and obligations under Republic Act No. 11212, which granted the company a franchise to establish, operate and maintain a distribution system in Iloilo.

The court said the TRO also covered the commencement of the expropriation proceedings against Peco under the assailed provisions, takeover by More of Peco’s distribution assets and issuance by the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission of the certificate of public convenience and necessity, provisional authority to operate or any other permits to More.

“Petitioner Peco was able to establish that the implementation or enforcement of Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 will materially and substantially invade its rights to equal protection under the law, due process and against unlawful taking of property, since respondent More, by invoking Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212, can easily take away, under the guise of eminent domain, petitioner Peco’s distribution assets.

”The court set the hearing for the conversion of the TRO into a writ of preliminary injunction on April 2, 2019 at 8:30 a.m.

More’s franchise under RA 11212 took effect on March 6, 2019, the same day that Peco filed an application for a TRO.

“This unexpected development only serves to bolster the urgency of issuing a TRO considering that Section 10 of RA 11212 authorizes respondent More to take immediate possession of petition Peco’s distribution assets after filing of expropriation proceedings, due notice and deposit of the assessed value of the assets in question,” the court said.

The court said that More’s CPCN was scheduled for hearing on March 27, 2019 and if granted, “this will give rise to a situation where two companies are operating in the same franchise area since Peco was transitory to operate for two more years under RA 11212.

”Peco, through legal counsel Divina Law, sought relief from Republic Act 11212, specifically Section 10 and 17, as it authorizes More to exercise the power of eminent domain over the distribution assets of Peco existing at the franchise area in Iloilo City.

“The authority granted to respondent More for the taking of petitioner’s Peco’s assets is arbitrary and confiscatory. The law authorizes taking that is not for the public purpose,”

Peco said in its petition dated March 6.Peco said the immediate transfer of its distribution assets to More would pose problems that might result in inefficiency of public service, which would be detrimental to the people of Iloilo.

Peco’s franchise expired on Jan. 19 but the ERC and the Energy Department said Peco’s  certificate of public convenience and necessity was valid until May 25 which served as ERC and DOE’s legal basis in allowing them to continue operating in Iloilo.