Iloilo power firm decries ‘fake news’ on Duterte backing takeover bid
CEBU CITY—A nearly century-old power distribution company in Iloilo City, which has been fighting a takeover bid, protested reports that supposedly quoted President Rodrigo Duterte as saying he was taking an active role in the effort to oust Iloilo’s existing power utility and replace it with a newly-formed firm.
In a statement, Panay Electric Co. (Peco) said the statement being attributed to Duterte about the President involving himself in the takeover of Peco by More Power Electric Co (More) was fake news designed to create the illusion that Duterte was directly participating in the bid to oust Peco.
Marcelo Cacho, Peco administrative officer, was quoted in the statement as describing the reports as a “spin” based on a nonexistent statement attributed to the President.
The reports (not on Inquirer.net) supposedly quoted Duterte as lashing out at a Mandaluyong regional trial court for issuing an order to stop the takeover by More of Peco facilities and equipment as provided for by the franchise issued by Congress and signed by Duterte to the new power company owned by ports tycoon Enrique Razon.
The reports were based on an interview with Duterte that did not happen, Cacho said.
In attributing a supposed rant against the Mandaluyong court decision to Duterte, the reports cited the State of the Nation Address made by the President in his 2017 in which he reportedly lashed out at the Supreme Court, then headed by ousted Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, for blocking the full implementation of the Reproductive Health Act.
Cacho said the 2017 Sona was twisted to make it appear that Duterte was also referring to the Mandaluyong court decision on the takeover bid targeting Peco.
“Nowhere in that speech did the President say that even on private matters where the crucial issue of justice and legality are involved, he wants the courts to abstain from protecting the constitutional rights of any of the involved parties,” Cacho added.
He said the twisting of the 2017 Sona was meant to “influence certain parties” to bring Peco down. The company, which started distributing electricity in Iloilo City and parts of Panay Island in the 1920s, has filed cases to prevent its takeover by More. More has filed an expropriation case against Peco to seize assets, equipment and facilities needed to distribute electricity in Iloilo.
Republic Act No. 11212, signed by Duterte last Feb. 14, granted a 25-year franchise to More to distribute electricity in Iloilo.
But Judge Monique Quisumbing-Ignacio, of the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court Branch 209, said the law does not mandate Peco to turn over its assets to More or More to seize these.
The court said some provisions of RA 11212 were found to be “void and unconstitutional for infringing on Peco’s rights to due process and equal protection of the law.”
Aside from the court case in Mandaluyong, cases filed by Peco and More against each other are also pending in courts in Iloilo City and the appellate court in Cebu. /TSB