Peco obtains TRO from local city court vs MORE Power

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PANAY Electric Co. Inc. (Peco) successfully sought a 20-day restraining order from a local court on March 13, effectively barring the takeover of MORE Power and Electric Co. (MORE Power).

In a five-page decision, the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court branch 209 enjoined MORE Power from expropriating and taking over the distribution assets of Peco. The same court also prohibited the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from issuing Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), provisional authority or any other permits in favor of MORE. If any had already been issued, the court ordered the agencies to suspend the implementation pending the resolution of the case.

MORE’s application for a CPCN is up for hearing on March 27.  The court said that if the CPCN will be granted, this will give rise to a situation where two electrical companies are operating in the same franchise area since Peco was given a transitory authority to operate for two more years.

“All told, the foregoing facts clearly show that there is no other ordinary, speedy and adequate remedy to prevent the infliction of irreparable injury to Peco except through the issuance of a TRO. Wherefore, premises considered, petitioner Peco’s prayer for issuance of a TRO is hereby granted,” the court said.

The court will hear on April 2 if the TRO will be converted into a Writ of Preliminary Injunction.

Republic Act (RA) 11212 granted MORE the franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City. Peco applied for the issuance of a TRO because its existing assets are in danger of being expropriated by MORE. Under Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212, MORE is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain over all the distribution assets and properties of Peco in the franchise area.

Peco said this directs the turnover of its business to MORE instead of requiring MORE to put up its own distribution system like all distribution utilities have done.  “Without these injunctive reliefs, MORE will undoubtedly succeed in violating Peco’s rights and unlawfully taking over Peco’s assets. As soon the law took effect, MORE became clothed with the power of eminent domain, which instantly puts Peco’s rights at risk of being violated,” Peco said. L