SC ends legal tussle between 2 power firms in Iloilo City

Tetch Torres-Tupas

September 16, 2020 08:27pm

MANILA, Philippines ---Voting 8-6, the Supreme Court upheld the control of  More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE) over the power distribution business in Iloilo City.

High Court's public information chief and spokesperson Atty. Brian Keith Hosaka said the high court's ruling has set aside the order issued by the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court and declaring Sections 10 and 17 of Republic Act No. 11212 (MORE's franchise) as constitutional.

The said provisions give MORE the powers of eminent domain and to expropriate any asset, including existing distribution assets in the city.

"In granting the petitions, the Supreme Court reversed the judgment of the Regional Trial Court of Mandaluyong City Branch 209  in Civil Case No. R-MND-19-00571, and declared Section 10 and 17 of RA No. 11212 constitutional," Hosaka said.

MORE and Panay Electric Co., Inc. (PECO) have been engaged in a legal tussle over the control of the Iloilo City power distribution.

MORE began the process of taking over PECO's electricity distribution facilities by filing an expropriation case against PECO's distribution assets after securing the 15-year franchise from Congress in 2019.

PECO's franchise meanwhile ended on January 19, 2019.

But PECO said it would not give up its fight.

"We will continue to pursue the available legal remedies to defend PECO's constitutional rights.  Despite this temporary setback, we remain optimistic that we will ultimately be vindicated not just for PECO but for the people of Iloilo," Atty. Estrella Elamparo, PECO Counsel said in a statement.

"The tight vote lends support to our position that the takeover of PECO's properties is not the exercise of eminent domain contemplated by our laws, but a violation of constitutional rights," she added. [ac]