By Myrna M. Velasco
Cacho-owned Panay Electric Company (PECO) is legally challenging before a Mandaluyong regional trial court the targeted seizure of its distribution power assets via a new franchise approved by Congress.
The power utility firm, in its prayer for declaratory relief before the trial court, is questioning the validity of the mining firm of billionaire Enrique Razon – being the awardee of a new legislative franchise to take over its power assets.
PECO stated “there is no substantial due process when private property is taken by the government from one private person and given to another person for the latter’s benefit.”
MORE Electric and Power Company of the Razon group is the presumptive firm that will then take over the franchise area of PECO in Iloilo City – with the former intending to become the new power distributor and service provider to consumers in the area.
PECO noted that it is challenging Republic Act 11212 – the newly issued franchise of the Razon company, primarily its Sections 10 and 17, because such intend “to expropriate PECO assets,” with the Cacho firm arguing that these provisions “violate PECO’s right to due process and Constitutional right to equal protection of the law.”
The PECO petition similarly seeks “to stop other government agencies – including the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission from implementing RA 11212 while the validity of the law is being challenged and heard.”
“Sections 10 and 17 of that law authorizes MORE to expropriate PECO assets via eminent domain that affect an individual’s right to private property,” the PECO petition expounded.
The utility firm opined that the Court filing is an affirmation that “the authority granted to MORE for the taking of PECO’s assets is arbitrary and confiscatory” and “the law authorizes the taking that is not for a public purpose.”’
The Iloilo power firm likewise sounded off doubts over “the validity and Constitutionality of the newly enacted RA 11212” that was signed February 14 this year.
It thus noted that “the Constitution itself provides that private property shall not be taken for public use without just compensation.”
PECO stressed “the assailed provisions of RA 11212 is not so much the grant of the power of eminent domain, but rather the scheme by which the law was used in a not-so-subtle attempt to unduly interfere with PECO’s rights.”
The targeted expropriation of PECO’s assets to the Razon group will be in May this year, as the company is just now servicing the franchise area on the strength of its certificate of public convenience and necessity (CPCN) – but that will already lapse in the next two months.