FORMER Iloilo distribution utility Panay Electric Co. is protecting its own self-interest when it warned the Supreme Court that any decision favoring new distribution utility More Electric and Power Corp. (More Power) will set a “bad precedent” for businesses in the country.
According to Deputy Speaker and Surigao del Sur Rep. Johnny Pimentel, there is no legal basis for the allegation of PECO lead counsel Atty Estella Emlaparo that a judicial ruling in favor of More Power will legitimize hostile takeovers of companies and franchises from interested parties without showing their technical capacity.
Pimentel said Congress did not renew PECO’s service as the power distributor of Iloilo to favor a new company so there is no truth of of hostile takeover since PECO was removed because consumers finally stood up and rejected them due to poor service.
“The opinion of PECO is self-seving because they still want to operate the electric utility but the truth of the matter is that it is the consumers who have been clamoring for another utility company because for several decades, PECO has a very poor service and they have several pending cases because of complaints from the customers,” explained Pimentel.
Pimentel said Congress rejected PECO due to the numerous complaints from consumers which ranged from overbilling, poor service, among many others, which were used as basis why its legislative franchise was not renewed.
“I was always present during the hearings of the renewal of their franchise and I have thorough knowledge of their poor performance and several violations with the Energy Regulatory Commission(ERC),” Pimentel added.
Pimentel maintained there is nothing wrong with doing business in the country especially if there are other companies who cannot provide reliable and world-class services needed by consumers.
“I think the people deserves a better utility company than PECO who can really serve the needs of the people,” he said.
Pimentel is hopeful the Supreme Court will respect and recognize the decision of Congress to give the legislative franchise to a deserving company since it has the jurisdiction over the grant of the franchise.
“We cannot preempt the decision of the Supreme Court but in my opinion just like in the case of ABS-CBN, the high court will rule in favor of More Power because its already moot and academic because PECO does not have a franchise to operate anymore,” Pilmentel said.
Pimentel added that in the event the SC rules against More Power, PECO cannot consider it a victory because they still cannot operate.
“The House of Representatives already denied the franchise including their request for reconsideration so even if they win the case how can they operate if they do not have a franchise. (On the other hand) the franchise of More Power was approved,” Pimentel concluded.
After its franchise was revoked, PECO sought relief fron the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 29 where it received a favorable decision. Mandaluyong RTC Branch 29 Judge Monique Ignacio declared as unconstitutional Sec. 10 of Section 7 of Republic Act 11212, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte which granted the franchise and eminent domain to More Power.
The SC, however, stopped the implementation of the Mandaluyong RTC decision and issued a Temporary Restraining Order(TRO) in favor of More Power.
PECO appealed the decision and asked for a withdrawal of the TRO which shall be decided by the SC on September 8.