PECO: MORE Power ‘misleads’ CA

Power distributor Panay Electric Company (PECO) will file a motion for reconsideration on the Court of Appeals’ (CA) ruling that sided with its rival firm, MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).

“We believe that the CA was misled by MORE Power’s misrepresentations in its petition,” PECO said in a statement.

The CA issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) against a halt order granted by the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209 to PECO.

The order barred MORE Power from taking over PECO’s power distribution assets in Iloilo City.

Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio of the Mandaluyong court, said PECO “was able to establish that the implementation or enforcement of Section 10 to 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 MORE Power, by invoking Section 10 and 17 of RA 11212, can easily take away, under the guise if eminent domain, PECO’s distribution assets.”

MORE power challenged the decision of Iganacio before the CA.

On Thursday, March 28, the CA issued a resolution granting MORE Power’s plea for a TRO to stop the Mandaluyong court from implementing its halt order.

In an eight-page resolution, Associate Justice Elihu Ybañez said “only the Supreme Court, under section 78 of the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA), may prevent its (RA 11212) implementation, including franchises granted to a distribution utility like MORE Power.”

According to him, the TRO issued by the Mandaluyong court “prevents the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from performing their mandate under the EPIRA Law, which is illegal.”

Ybañez also said the TRO “has the effect of extending PECO’s franchise, an authority vested only in Congress.”

PECO’s franchise expired in January this year and another franchise has been granted to MORE Power.

The CA gave MORE. Power 10 days to pay P50 million for any damages PECO may suffer under this TRO.

It also directed PECO to file its comment to MORE Power’s petition before the CA within 10 days and explain why a writ of preliminary injunction should be issued against the order of the RTC.

PECO said the TRO issued by the CA “does not mean that MORE Power can immediately proceed to expropriate [its] distribution assets.”

“At present, there is a Motion to Suspend Proceedings pending before the RTC of Iloilo City wherein we argued that the threshold issue of the constitutionality of MORE Power’s legislative franchise has to be resolved first as a prejudicial question by the RTC of Mandaluyong City prior to any act of expropriation on the part of MORE Power,” it explained

PECO said it would “continue to exercise and pursue all other legal remedies to defend [its] rights and protect the interest of the people of Iloilo against the unwarranted attempt of MORE Power to confiscate and take over [its] assets without due process in the guise of an unlawful expropriation procedure.”

“We are confident that in the end, we and the people of Iloilo, who depend on PECO’s services, will be vindicated,” it added.IMT

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