A MATTER OF TIME: MORE Power sees clear path to takeover

MORE Power President and CEO Roel Castro

By: Emme Rose Santiagudo

MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) is only biding its time before it could assume power distribution services in Iloilo City from Panay Electric Co. (PECO).

The Razon-led firm sees a clear way to replacing PECO after the House Committee on Legislative Franchises on Wednesday struck down a bill seeking to grant the latter a new power distribution franchise.

Among those who approved the denial was Iloilo City lone district Rep. Julienne Baronda.

The PECO bill was filed by Abang Lingkod party-list Rep. Joseph Stephen Paduano in August 2019.

PECO’s franchise expired in January 2019 and its certificate of public convenience and necessity from the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) also expired in May 2019.

The only law that allows the embattled power firm to distribute power in the metro is a provision from Republic Act No. 1121, the same law that gave MORE Power the authority to distribute power in the city.

With odds favoring them, it’s just a question of when will MORE Power formally come in, MORE Power CEO and President Roel Castro said.

“From the time that we said that we are ready and preparing, we have been preparing. With all confidence, we are ready and prepared. All the materials and supplies, have already been ready, execution na lang,” Castro said in an interview on Thursday.

Castro said they are happy with the decision of the House to deny the franchise application of PECO.

“The Congress has made to just reaffirm na meron nang franchise na-award sa MORE Power months before but now that they applied, well Congress has spoken and denied it. From the Congress side, it is very clear that award has been made to MORE. We will just have to follow the law. We are happy that it was denied,” he stressed.

Castro also re-echoed the sentiments of Baronda who emphasized that there will be chaos if PECO is given a franchise.

Yung sinabi ni Congresswoman Jamjam was correct, if there will be two, there will be chaos not only on the two companies but it’s inconvenient for the consumers. We have to understand that franchise is number one a privilege that Congress would see if you can deliver the services, because that’s the public trust, you are actually replacing the government in delivering that basic service,” Castro said.

When asked about the ongoing expropriation case and the transition period of MORE Power, Castro refused to answer.

“The two years is in transition. I will clarify all of those at the right time because it seems that there is a misunderstanding on two years but I don’t want to comment because there is an ongoing case,” Castro said.

The expropriation case filed by MORE Power against PECO is part of its attempt to take over power distribution assets of the latter.

While the RTC Branch 37 granted MORE’s application for a writ of possession in relation to the expropriation case, the case was raffled to RTC Branch 35 after Presiding Judge Yvette Go inhibited from the case.

MORE Power has questioned the decision of Mandaluyong RTC Branch 209, which declared Sections 10 and 17 of RA No. 11212 void and unconstitutional, before the Supreme Court.

After conducting ocular inspections and due diligence in the metro, what is clear for Castro is that MORE Power is ready to become the new power distributor in Iloilo City.