Former Iloilo City distributor Panay Electric Co. filed a petition with the Philippine Competition Commission against rival MORE Electric and Power Corp. for alleged monopoly and incompetence.
PECO, in a statement, accused MORE Power of monopolistic and antitrust practices, claiming the new power utility violated tenets concerning the prohibition of monopoly under the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act 9136, or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001, and Republic Act 10667, or the Philippine Competition Act.
It said MORE Power’s violation of PECO’s constitutional principles occurred when it seized the assets, equipment and clientele of PECO without purchasing its own property or investing in resources that would have enabled it to serve consumers reliably.
PECO legal counsel Estrella Elamparo said MORE Power’s actions were aimed to establish their monopolistic stronghold in the power sector of Iloilo City.
“Instead of building its own distribution system capable of keeping up with PECO’s existing assets, MORE Power, under the guise of expropriation, picked the easy way and simply took PECO’s facilities and clientele. In this way, it avoided competing against a seasoned player and, at the same time, gained dominance over the industry,” she said.
“Eliminating one’s competitors to ensure absolute dominance over an industry is the very essence of anti-competitive conduct,” Elamparo said.
Elamparo said MORE Power violated Section 45 of the EPIRA Law, also known as Cross Ownership, Market Power Abuse and Anti-Competitive Behavior, “despite having no experience, expertise or even resources for the distribution of electricity.” She said MORE Power took responsibility as electric distributor of Iloilo City, although it was identified as a mining company.
She said PECO also filed a libel case against Francis Gentoral, the executive director of the Iloilo Economic Development Foundation Inc. for claiming that PECO had caused numerous investors to turn away from Iloilo
PECO disputed the allegations of over-billing Iloilo consumers, saying that MORE Power was the one shown to be overcharging by an estimated P7.7 million in the July to August billing cycle alone.
“MORE Power has always passed the blame to us because it has been failing to deliver on its mandate to deliver its electrical services. It has been failing its duty and should be investigated. Instead of being objective about their statements, ILEDF has supported their statements despite what the facts show. MORE, with IELDF’s assistance, is concealing their failures and playing the blame game, when they should be fulfilling their responsibilities,” PECO head of public engagement and government affairs Marcelo Cacho said.
Congress granted a franchise to MORE Power in February last year after it did not renew the franchise of PECO over alleged complaints from consumers. The Energy Regulatory Commission also revoked the certificate of necessity and public convenience of PECO in the absence of the Congressional franchise.