More has no CPCN — PECO

March 12, 2020

REVELATION during the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) hearing on the dispute between More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE), owned by ports and gambling magnate Ricky Razon, and Panay Electric Company (PECO) belied the claim of MORE that it has a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN.

This and many other irregularities were uncovered during a hearing involving representatives of MORE and of PECO, long-time power distributor in Iloilo, at the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) offices.

ERC Hearing Officer Atty. Ma. Corazon Gines officially confirmed that MORE has no CPCN and that no official order has been signed to grant one at this moment. A CPCN is needed before a company can start doing power distribution services in an area.

The March 5 letter stating the ERC’s decision to revoke Panay Electric Company’s (PECO) CPCN and grant MORE provisional authority was brandished by MORE’s legal counsel Atty. Carlo Verzo on March 6. However, he admitted during the hearing that he had received the letter on March 5 but refused to disclose to the ERC how and from whom he got the copy, invoking “lawyer-client privilege.”

It was confirmed during the hearing that his copy was not officially received.

Atty. Gines acknowledged that MORE had never furnished a copy of the Addendum to the Writ of Possession issued by Iloilo RTC Judge Emerald Contreras which clearly states that PECO would still operate the currently contested power distribution facilities.

Following MORE’s violent takeover of five of PECO’s substations last February 28, Judge Contreras had issued an order on March 6 that directed the former to return control to PECO. Both the addendum and the March 6 order of strict adherence to the addendum were only presented to the ERC on March 11, the day of the hearing.

“This just proves what we’ve been saying for weeks. That this is an illegal corporate takeover,” says PECO legal counsel Atty. Estrella Elamparo. “They blatantly lied to the ERC, and took advantage of their confusion.”

The inspection team sent by the ERC to draft a report for the March 2 hearing had only met with MORE, who had informed the inspectors that MORE was in complete control of the distribution facilities despite Judge Contreras’s order to keep control with PECO.

This ocular inspection was the basis for the ERC’s March 5 letter but is not part of the records of the case and is nowhere to be found.

MORE had also failed to inform the ERC that it had sent letters to PECO’s existing subscribers informing them that all payments for next month’s cycle should be paid to MORE, despite the fact that it lacks a CPCN that would allow it to do so.

PECO continues to nominate power for the city of Iloilo until now and submitted Wholesale Electric Spot Market (WESM) bills and Day-Ahead Nominations of power as proof that MORE was attempting to charge consumers for electricity that PECO had purchased.

“They tried to forcibly take over our facilities, then they tried to deceive consumers that they were the ones supplying power,” said PECO Head of Public Engagement and Government Relations Marcelo Cacho. “Now it’s been officially confirmed that they never had the right. Now they’ve been exposed.”