SC indefinitely extends TRO vs power rate hike

Published by rudy Date posted on April 22, 2014

MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE 2 – 6:41 PM) The Supreme Court on Tuesday indefinitely extended the temporary restraining order it issued preventing Meralco from implementing a questioned P4.15-per-kilowatt-hour power rate hike.

The high court voted 14-0 for the indefinite extension on the day the original TRO was supposed to expire.

Also covered by the injunction are the generation companies Masinloc Power Partners Co., AES Philippines, San Miguel Energy Corp., South Premiere Power Corp., First Gas Power Corp., National Grid Corp. of the Philippines and the Philippine Electricity Market Corp.

The original TRO was handed down two days before Christmas last year after petitions questioning the unprecedented power rate hike were filed by the Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives, and by the National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms, Federation of Village Associations, and Federation of Las Pinas Homeowners Association.

Meralco said it will abide by the Supreme Court's extension of the TRO.

Lawrence S. Fernandez, Manila Electric Co utility economics head, told that the company "respects the order though we still need to study the directive closely with our lawyers when we get a copy."

The lawmakers who petitioned against the rate hike welcomed the Supreme Court decision, saying they hoped the tribunal would eventually void the increase as well as subsequent proposed hikes by Meralco.

“We also hope that the Supreme Court would finally declare the Electric Power Industry Reform Act unconstitutional so that this type of unjust rate hikes would not happen again,” said Bayan Muna party-list Representative Neri Colmenares.

Malacang, too, welcomed the ruling, with Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda saying: "“Well, that’s certainly something that we will welcome, considering that this is now the summertime.”

“There’s an increased demand in power, so the extension of the TRO will definitely be something that will be welcomed by our countrymen,” he added.

ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio said the ruling spares consumers from shouldering what he called an unjustifiable rate increase.

“This will ensure that millions of consumers will not be burdened by onerous charges while the Court continues to deliberate on the case," he said.

"At the same time, we urge the Court to swiftly resolve the issues we've brought before it. We hope it will side with the people in declaring grave abuse of discretion on the part of Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) in failing to prevent the unprecedented price hike and, more importantly, declare the privatization of power generation as unconstitutional," Tinio added.

Businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan, chairman of Meralco, also chairs TV5, of which is the online new portal. --Brian Maglungsod,

(with a report from Lira Dalangin-Fernandez,, and Philippine News Agency)

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