CA junks suit forcing Meralco to provide power in squatters’ area

The Court of Appeals (CA) has turned down a suit seeking to order power distribution firm, Manila Electric Company (Meralco), to provide electricity to a group of urban poor residents in Quezon City.

In a six-page decision dated July 23 released on Tuesday, the appellate court’s Second Division through Associate Justice Myra V. Garcia-Fernandez, applying provisions of the Anti-Electricity Pilferage Act, said the Leyteño-Payatas Residents Association, Inc. cannot compel Meralco for electric service in the absence of proof of their right to occupy the area sought to be provided with electricity.

The ruling upheld the Quezon City Regional Trial Court which had ruled “that there was no clear right which is materially and substantially violated” in requiring the applicants to comply with the requirements “which includes the submission of proof of right to occupy”.

“The RTC did not err in finding that defendant-appellee’s (Meralco) requirement of a certification from the owner of the subject premises is justified, considering that there is still a registered owner over the subject premises,” the court said, noting that the property on government records is still owned by Tofemi Realty.

In its suit before the lower court, the Leyteño-Payatas Residents Association, Inc. said its members occupied and developed the contiguous, vacant, and abandoned area at Legaspi Steet, Sorsogon Street, Samar Street, Leyte Street, and Sto. Niño Street, otherwise known as Groups 5, 6, and 7 of Payatas B, Quezon City for more or less 30 years and that no action was being taken by Meralco in their request for electric service connection despite several follow-ups.

The group, the CA said, “failed to prove that its members have a clear and unmistakable right to be provided with electric service considering that it failed to comply with the requirements” and said as such, Meralco cannot be legally compelled to provide them with electric services.

Associate Justices Fernanda Lampas Peralta and Ruben Reynaldo G. Roxas concurred in the decision. (PNA)

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