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RTC bars PECO move to retain Iloilo assets

The Regional Trial Court of Iloilo City has denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Panay Electric Co. (PECO), the former power distributor of the city, regarding the expropriation of its assets.

RTC Branch 23 Judge Emerald Requina-Contreras issued an order dated July 2 rejecting PECO’s motion against the decision the court issued last April 16.

“The court in its order sought to be reconsidered already cited the reasons why the court cannot grant the omnibus motion to enforce the addendum and urgent ex parte motion to order the sheriff of the RTC Iloilo City to implement its addendum,” the decision said.

The order said PECO no longer has a franchise to operate the distribution system and no Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to operate.

PECO’s franchise expired on January 19, 2019, while Congress granted a new franchise to MORE Power and Electric Corp. under Republic Act 11212, signed by President Rodrigo Duterte on February 14, 2019.

ERC also granted the provisional CPCN to MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).

“Defendant PECO should know this better as this has been what they have been invoking and the very reason why the court crafted the addendum,” the order said.

PECO wanted the court to enforce its addendum allowing the former distributor to retain control over the assets, with MORE Power personnel only observing.

However, the RTC decision was based on PECO still having a CPCN from the ERC at that time.

The earlier RTC decision ordered the sheriff “to place MORE Power in possession” of PECO properties identified for expropriation such as the Baldoza-La Paz substation (land including all machineries and improvements, buildings), General Luna substation (machinery), Tabuc Suba, Jaro substation (land, machinery), Bolilao, Mandurriao substation (land, buildings, and machinery), and Avanceña Street, Molo substation (land, and buildings, machinery).

The assets were assessed to have a combined value of P217.9 million

Other assets that were granted to MORE Power includes those directly used in the electric distribution services in Iloilo City, such as consumers’ electric meters, poles, transformers, transmission and distribution equipment composed of primary and secondary lines on the streets of Iloilo City, and service vehicles and equipment used directly in the distribution, maintenance and troubleshooting activities, among others.

“The court already issued and implemented the writ of possession according to law and jurisprudence. Defendant PECO, in fact, had resorted to other legal remedies to question the said action of the court but as of this writing, there is no order from the higher court to rule otherwise. Wherefore, finding no cogent reason to set aside or disturb its earlier order, the motion for reconsideration is denied,” the order said.

Iloilo City Mayor Jerry P. Treñas also revoked PECO’s business permit in the absence of the franchise and CPCN.

Meanwhile, MORE Power president Roel Castro said they were able replace a total of 109 “rotten poles” covering the period of 110 days since MORE Power took over on February 29.

He said MORE Power was also able to replace and uprate 146 distribution transformers.

“If you will count the number of days that we have been operating, we have been replacing more than one transformer per day on the average,” he said.

MORE Power also corrected a total of 133 hotspots of overheating sections, comprising of air-break switch, disconnect cutout, disconnect switch, primary bushing, primary connector, secondary connector, primary jumper, sectionalizing cutout, line cutout, fuse cutout, pole grounding connector, and hotline clamps.

The company also attended to a total of 4,519 “Trouble Calls and Work Order Responses” while its “Customer Care Responses” accumulated a total of 50,068 through the company’s customer welfare desk, helpline, and social media platforms.

“We really need to fix things and that is what we are actually doing 24/7. Rest assured that we are initiating proactive programs and policies attuned to the needs of our time to better serve the people of Iloilo. And this is propelled by our avowed mission to steer our city closer towards sustained prosperity and security through a sustainable energy service,” Castro said.

Topics: Regional Trial Court , Iloilo City , Panay Electric Co. , Emerald Requina-Contreras
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