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CA issues TRO in favor of MORE Power.

MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) successfully sought a 60-day temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals (CA), effectively barring a local court's order that earlier issued a 20-day TRO against MORE's takeover of Panay Electric Co. Inc.'s (Peco) assets.

'Considering that the issues raised are of transcendental importance, and to avoid any grave and irreparable injury, which would be suffered by petitioner pending disposition of the instant petition, and likewise so as not to render outcome of the petition moot and academic, let a TRO issue, effective for 60 days from service to the respondents, enjoining the public respondent Regional Trial Court, Branch 209, Mandaluyong City, from implementing the assailed order dated March 12 and the TRO dated March 14,' the March 28 resolution of the Special Seventh Division of the CA stated.

The local court had enjoined MORE Power from expropriating and taking over the distribution assets of Peco. The same court also prohibited the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) from issuing Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), provisional authority or any other permits in favor of MORE. If any had already been issued, the court ordered the agencies to suspend the implementation pending the resolution of the case.

Peco's franchise to operate a distribution system in Iloilo had already expired while MORE was granted the franchise to operate in the area.

The CA said the issuance of the assailed order dated March 12 has the effect of extending the franchise of Peco, which authority is vested with Congress and not with the respondent court.

'By granting the TRO, the respondent judge effectively revived the expired franchise of Peco and, by the same judicial stroke, paralyzed the franchise of MORE. This abusive exercise of power not only offends judicial sensibilities, it impermissively encroaches upon legislative prerogatives,' the CA said.

Republic Act 11212 granted MORE the franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City. Peco applied for the issuance of a TRO because its existing assets were in danger of being expropriated by MORE.

Under Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212, MORE is authorized to exercise the power of eminent domain over all the distribution assets and properties of Peco in the franchise area.

'Every day of delay means continuing the operation of Peco even without franchise and preventing MORE from taking over despite its new franchise. The unexpected consequence is anathema to the intent and purpose of the RA 11212 and prevents MORE from providing better and cheaper service to the people of Iloilo City,' said the CA.

Thus, the CA ruled there is grave urgency for it to issue a TRO to stop the local court from further disrupting the order of things under the law to ensue continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in Iloilo City.

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Publication:Business Mirror (Makati City, Philippines)
Date:Mar 31, 2019
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