ILOILO City – Its bid to take over Panay Electric Co.’s (PECO) assets is for the public good and not for its own interest, according to MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), the new power distributor here.
“To say that MORE Power is confiscating PECO’s assets for its own use is wrong,” stressed MORE Power president Roel Castro.
He reminded PECO, which is fighting off expropriation proceedings, that MORE Power has the franchise to distribute power in the city.
PECO’s franchise ended on Jan. 19, 2019 and it failed to secure a new or extended franchise from Congress.
“Since wala na sila franchise, the use of those power distribution assets to serve consumers should be with the company that has the franchise. We won’t be using those assets for our own good. Those are for the consumers and that is the essence of the expropriation proceedings,” Castro explained.
The Regional Trial Court (Branch 37) here is set to hear the petition for writ of possession filed by MORE Power against PECO on June 13 at 2 p.m.
The pairing judge of RTC Branch 37, Judge Oliver Gelvezon, will preside the hearing as Judge Marie Yvette Go is on a study leave. But it was Go who set the hearing date in an order issued on May 30.
MORE Power filed a petition at the RTC here for the expropriation of PECO’s assets on March 11, 2019.
The petition was filed five days after PECO asked the RTC in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila to issue a temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction against MORE Power and all government agencies tasked to implement Republic Act 11212 which is MORE Power’s franchise law.
On March 12, the Mandaluyong court issued a 20-day temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping MORE Power from, among others, commencing expropriation proceedings against PECO’s power distribution assets.
However, a week after, MORE Power was able to secure a 60-day TRO from the Court of Appeals’ Special 17th Division against the 20-day TRO granted to PECO.
The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) granted PECO an authority to operate even without a franchise – through a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity which is a working permit or operating license required of power distributors – because MORE Power still has no power distribution system of its own.
ERC chairperson Agnes Devanadera, however, stressed that its issuance of a CPCN must not be construed as extending the franchise of PECO.
According to ERC, a CPCN was issued to PECO “to ensure uninterrupted supply of electricity in Iloilo City.” Its decision was contained in an order dated May 21, 2019.
“Under the law, we (the ERC) are authorized to grant PECO the necessary provisional CPCN during the interim period or until More Electric and Power Corp., the legislative franchisee, has established and can fully operate its own distribution system,” stressed Devanadera. /PN