MORE Power to challenge RTC ruling in higher courts

ILOILO City – MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) will ask the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court to review the ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Mandaluyong City declaring as unconstitutional the “Right of Eminent Domain” and “Transition of Operations” sections of its franchise law.

Also, according to Atty. Hector Teodosio, MORE Power legal counsel, the ruling of RTC Mandaluyong has “no bearing” on the pending Petition for Writ of Possession with RTC Branch 37 in Iloilo City.

“They are independent and co-equal courts,” stressed Teodosio.

On March 11 this year, MORE Power filed a petition at RTC Branch 37 for the expropriation of PECO’s power distribution assets, citing Section 10 (Right of Eminent Domain) of its franchise law, Republic Act 11212, authorizing it to take possession of, exercise control over, and manage and operate all of the power distribution assets in Iloilo City.

“Wala power or authority ang RTC Mandaluyong kontra sa RTC in Iloilo in the same manner that the RTC in Iloilo wala power or authority over RTC Mandaluyong,” Teodosio stressed.

Teodosio also clarified that the RTC Mandaluyong judgment is not yet final and executory.

MORE Power asked RTC Branch 37 to issue with a writ of possession authorizing it to take immediate control, operation, use, and disposition of PECO’s power distribution system assets.

The city’s new power distributor also petitioned the court to determine the reasonable value of PECO’s power distribution system assets for just compensation, then order the transfer of the ownership of these upon payment of a just compensation.

By MORE Power’s own estimate, however, PECO’s power distribution system is valued at P481,842,450 – way below PECO’s previous claim that its assets are worth at least P2 billion.

“Plaintiff is ready, willing and able to deposit the amount – in a bank that the Honorable Court will designate,” read part of MORE Power’s petition.

The expropriation of PECO’s assets in its favor, according to MORE Power, would allow it to “immediately address and correct poor services, overcharging, frequent brownouts, expensive rates, old and unsafe facilities and practices, and other service deficiencies that this city’s power users and consumers had long suffered.”

PECO, the sole power distributor in this city for the past 95 years, vowed exhaust all legal remedies to protect its assets.

In recent years, PECO faced mounting criticism from dissatisfied consumers complaining of erroneous billing, poor customer service and high rates, among others./PN

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