SC: ERC has jurisdiction over cases vs power players


The Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) has jurisdiction to hear cases of anti-competitive behavior, abuse of market power, or other unfair trade or practices filed against the Manila Electric Company (MERALCO) and Aboitiz Power Corporation subsidiaries, according to the Supreme Court (SC), as long as the alleged illegal acts were done prior to the enactment of Republic Act (RA) 10667 or the Philippine Competition Act (PCA)

Based on a BusinessMirror, the high court’s Third Division partially granted the petition filed by the ERC, which questioned the ruling issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) in May 2018 that provided the Philippine Competition Commission (PCC) jurisdiction over anti-competition issues and cases. 

The CA had ruled that PCC’s jurisdiction over such cases is original, meaning it has the power to take over a case in its inception; exclusive, which rules out the idea of coexistence with other regulatory bodies; and primary, wherein cases of conflict between the jurisdiction of PCC and other regulatory bodies, preference shall be given to the PCC. 

The same appellate court ruling also declared that the PCA has no retroactive effect, meaning cases involving it remain under the ERC’s jurisdiction.

Nonetheless, the ERC did not agree with the CA’s decision, specifically on the PCC having exclusive, original, and primary jurisdiction over competition-related issues in the energy sector, thus prompting it to elevate the case to the SC.

The high court then ruled that the CA’s discussion on PCC’s primary, original and exclusive jurisdiction over cases filed after its enactment is immaterial in resolving the case.

RA 10667 was signed into law by the late Pres. Benigno Aquino III on July 21, 2015. The anti-competition cases against MERALCO and AboitizPower units Therma Mobile, Inc. and AP Renewables, Inc. were filed before the said date, thus giving the ERC jurisdiction under RA 9136 or the Electric Power Industry Reform Act (EPIRA)