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Court stops Razon firm’s takeover of Iloilo City power distribution

GMA News Online logo GMA News Online 3/14/2019 Merueñas, Mark
Economy electricity power lines energy 85926210 Economy electricity power lines energy 85926210

A Mandaluyong City court has temporarily prevented a company owned by billionaire Enrique Razon from taking over assets of Iloilo City's longtime power distributor.

The Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209 on Tuesday issued a temporary restraining order (TRO), effective for 20 days from receipt, stopping MORE Electric Power Corp. from implementing the rights and obligations under the franchise granted it by law.

Panay Electric Co. (PECO), the city's power distributor of 95 years, sought the TRO after alleging its assets, including poles, wires, cables, transformers, infrastructure and equipment, may be expropriated by MORE, whose franchise took effect last March 6.

The court said PECO was "able to establish" that the implementation of two provisions of MORE's franchise "will materially and substantially invade its rights to equal protection under the law, due process, and against unlawful taking of property."

By invoking Sections 10 and 17 of the franchise, the court said, MORE "can easily take away, under the guise of eminent domain, petitioner PECO's distribution assets."

The court also ruled that MORE's pending complaint for expropriation against PECO before an Iloilo judge "only serves to bolster the urgency of issuing a TRO."

Under the TRO, MORE is enjoined from, among others, starting expropriation proceedings and taking over PECO's distribution assets in Iloilo City, while the Department of Energy and the Energy Regulatory Commission are prevented from granting MORE the provisional authority to operate in the area.

MORE president Roel Castro told GMA News Online the company will abide by the order. — with reports from Ted Cordero/MDM, GMA News

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