Panay Electric seeks lifting of TRO on court ruling vs 'takeover' provision

Mike Navallo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 06 2019 03:39 PM | Updated as of Dec 06 2019 04:09 PM

MANILA – Panay Electric Co asked the Supreme Court to lift its temporary restraining order on a lower court's ruling that declared portions of rival distributor MORE Electric's franchise as unconstitutional.

The questioned provisions would allow MORE to expropriate or use PECO's assets, the Mandaluyong court said, adding allowing such would amount to a "corporate takeover." The TRO was issued last Tuesday.

The franchise of PECO to distribute electricity in Panay Island expired last January. MORE, led by billionaire Enrique Razon, sought to establish a new power distributor in the area.

The judge on the case, Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, said sections 10 and 17 of MORE’s franchise infringed on PECO’s rights to "due process and equal protection of the law."

“Petitioner (MORE) is the one attempting to seize, not just respondent’s assets but its entire business from top to bottom, yet petitioner has the audacity to claim that it is the one suffering an invasion of its rights,” PECO told the Supreme Court.

PECO had operated in Panay for 95 years and efforts to renew its franchise failed. MORE's franchise was signed in February.

ABS-CBN's sister company, First Philippine Holdings, is a minority stakeholder in PECO.