SC stops NGCP project over expropriation row | Inquirer News

SC stops NGCP project over expropriation row

/ 05:48 AM December 01, 2023

Another project led by the country’s lone grid operator may be delayed indefinitely after the Supreme Court issued a temporary restraining order against its P3-billion Panay-Guimaras 138-kilovolt (kV) transmission line.

The National Grid Corp. of the Philippines (NGCP) said on Thursday that the high court, in a “disheartening” April 12 decision released only recently, granted Iloilo Grain Complex Corp.’s (IGCC) petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO), which remains effective.

“[This] hinders us from fulfilling our commitment to the residents of the islands of Panay and Guimaras, including fast-developing Iloilo City,” it added in a statement sent to reporters.


The NGCP’s Panay-Guimaras project consists of a 1.7-kilometer transmission line connecting the proposed Iloilo substation to the Ingore Cable Terminal Station, the submarine cable’s connection point to Guimaras Island.


Originally scheduled for completion in December 2024, it was expected to address increasing power demand in Iloilo City.

The IGCC had proposed that the NGCP reroute a portion of the Panay-Guimaras interconnection project to avoid an open area it owned while suggesting a “shorter” path.

But the grid operator said the suggested route would directly traverse five households and “further delay the completion of the project.” It filed an expropriation case to acquire the IGCC property in September last year, which the Iloilo Regional Trial Court Branch 33 granted a month later.

The lower court also issued a writ of possession to the NGCP on Dec. 12, 2022, for the property.

This prompted the IGCC, an agricultural firm engaged in farming rice and coffee, among others, to submit a motion for reconsideration in January that was denied by the lower court.

The firm then went to the high tribunal, arguing that the NGCP failed to prove that the Energy Regulatory Commission cleared the project.


‘Grave abuse of discretion’

In its 20-page ruling, the high court said the lower court committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the writ of possession to the NGCP without determining whether it really needed to take the IGCC property for public use.

In granting the TRO, the Supreme Court also permanently prohibited the grid operator from implementing the writ of possession.

The NGCP, however, argued that it had “fully complied with the requisites for [writ of possession] issuance” and that it continued to reach out to the IGCC “for an expeditious and amicable settlement.”

In September, the high tribunal also issued a TRO against the NGCP’s Cebu-Magdugo 230-kV line, a component of the Cebu-Negros-Panay Stage 3 (CNP3) backbone project that the grid operator said was vital for the full-capacity operation of the Mindanao-Visayas Interconnection Project.

This was after the Tourism Infrastructure and Enterprise Zone Authority filed a petition to stop the transmission line construction, as the two tower sites fell within its property. The CNP3 was originally scheduled to go online this month.

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READ: NGCP laments TRO on Panay-Guimaras project

TAGS: NGCP, Supreme Court, TRO

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