Panay Electric Company Challenges assets ‘seizure’

Panay Electric Company

THE beleaguered Panay Electric Company (PECO), the long-time power supplier in Iloilo City and nearby areas, is not about ready to give up the fight, this time taking to court the new energy company of business magnate, Enrique Razon, for “seizing” PECO’s assets ‘lock, stock and barrel.’

In a petition for ‘declaratory relief’ before the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court, PECO averred “there is no substantial due process when private property is taken by the government from one private person and given to another person for the latter’s direct benefit.”

In the main, PECO is challenging Section 10 and Section 17 of RA 11212, franchise granted by Congress to Monte Oro Resources Energy (MORE) last month covering the service area of PECO in Panay island.

The questioned provisions authorized MORE to expropriate PECO assets via eminent domain that affect an individual’s right to private property, the company said.

The petition also seeks to stop other government agencies including the Department of Energy (DoE), the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) and other government agencies from implementing RA 11212 while the validity of the law is being challenged and heard.

The PECO petition notes the “authority granted to MORE for the taking of PECO’s assets is arbitrary and confiscatory” and “the law authorizes (the) taking that is not for a public purpose.”

Furthermore, PECO cites, “the Constitution itself provides that ‘private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.’”

“The assailed provisions of R.A. 11212 is not so much the grant of the power of eminent domain, but rather the scheme by which the law was used in a not-so-subtle attempt to unduly interfere with PECO’s rights.

“The delegated eminent domain authority granted under the assailed provisions all but hostages petitioner PECO to turn over its assets and business to MORE.

“While the grant of the power to a franchisee is not unusual, the targeting of PECO’s specific assets makes such grant of power constitutionally infirm.

“This amounts to a confiscation of property that may not be exercised by the State nor delegated to a private person in blatant disregard of the constitutionally protected property rights of another,” the PECO petition asserts further.