A former legislator lauded the Supreme Court’s issuance of a resolution restraining a lower court decision that earlier declared the franchise of MORE Electric and Power Corp. of businessman Enrique Razon as unconstitutional.
The Supreme Court en banc issued a temporary restraining order on Dec. 3 against Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court Branch 209 and current distributor Panay Electric Co. from enforcing the ruling of the lower court declaring unconstitutional the franchise of MORE as the new power distributor in Iloilo City.
“The SC’s TRO against the Mandaluyong RTC and PECO is a partial vindication already of the 17th Congress’ passage of RA 11212 because it was an en banc decision and not just by a division,” former Parañaque Rep. Gus Tambunting, former vice chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Legislative Franchises, said.
President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11212 in February granting MORE the franchise to operate the distribution system of Iloilo City after PECO’s franchise expired in January.
The Mandaluyong Court on July 1, 2019 declared as unconstitutional Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 and issued a TRO on March 14.
For her part, Iloilo City’s lone Rep. Janine Baronda said Malacañang has to show political will by ordering the Energy Regulatory Commission to impose penalties against PECO and its officials following findings of lapses by the ERC.
“The findings of the ERC are alarming if not appalling for endangering the lives of many Ilonggos,” she said.
ERC directed PECO to explain why they should not face administrative and criminal cases after ERC technical investigators found evidence that PECO violated safety and technical standards in its operations.
The SC decision followed the SC en banc’s issuance on Dec. 3 of a temporary restraining order against the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court and PECO from declaring as unconstitutional the power of expropriation given by Congress under Republic Act No. 11212 to MORE.
Tambunting said congressional records would show that members of the 17th Congress studied and debated every provision of RA 11212.
He said the power of eminent domain, which includes the authority to take over private or government property so that public services can be rendered, is granted to all distribution utilities under Republic Act No. 9136 or the Electricity Power Industry Reform Act, a law whose constitutionality had been upheld in many cases by the Supreme Court already.
MORE president Roel Castro welcomed the SC’s issuance of the TRO against the Mandaluyong RTC, which PECO had used to stop the new Iloilo City distribution utility from acquiring its distribution assets.
Castro said the SC’s unanimous decision to restrain the Mandaluyong RTC showed that the High Court found that “MORE Power has a clear and unmistakable right to be protected, there is material and substantial invasion of such right, there is an urgent need for the writ to prevent irreparable injury to MORE Power, and no other ordinary, speedy, and adequate remedy exists to prevent the infliction of irreparable injury other than the issuance of said TRO.”
“For MORE Power, this is but a manifestation of the rule of law. Republic Act No. 11212, or the law granting MORE Power its legislative franchise, was regularly passed by Philippine Congress and signed into law by the President,” Castro said.