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SC upholds CA ruling in Meralco case

June 30, 2023 Hector Lawas 326 views

THE Supreme Court has upheld a Court of Appeals (CA) decision, confirming that the Manila Electric Company (Meralco) violated Republic Act No. 7832, also known as the Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994 when it disconnected the power supply of a consumer without prior notice.

The complaint was filed by Lucy Yu, who alleged that representatives from Meralco forcibly entered the premises of the New Supersonic Industrial Corporation (NSIC) in Valenzuela City, owned by her family, on December 9, 1999.

Upon inspection, the Meralco representatives issued a Notice of Disconnection and immediately disconnected the electricity supply to NSIC’s factory and Yu’s residence.

Yu subsequently filed a damages complaint with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Valenzuela City, Branch 172, which ruled in favor of Yu. Meralco then appealed the case to the CA, which upheld the RTC ruling with some modifications. Meralco then brought the case before the SC.

In rejecting Meralco’s petition, the SC emphasized that, according to Section 4(a) of RA 7832, Meralco must provide prior written notice to consumers before disconnecting their electric service.

The Court stressed that this notice must be given at least 48 hours before the disconnection, in accordance with due process requirements.

The SC concluded that Meralco’s act of cutting off the respondent’s electricity on the same day the disconnection notice was given violated due process requirements.

Furthermore, the Court held Meralco presumed to be acting in bad faith for failing to comply with the notice requirement under RA 7832 during the disconnection of Yu’s electric service.

Consequently, the SC denied Meralco’s Petition for Review on Certiorari and affirmed the CA’s Decision dated November 26, 2020, in CA-G.R. CV No. 111808.

The Court made the following adjustments to the ruling: temperate damages reduced to P50,000, removal of the award of moral damages due to lack of basis, and exemplary damages reduced to P100,000.