THE Supreme Court (SC) has directed the Department of Energy (DOE) and the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to comment on the petition that seeks to declare unconstitutional their regulations in connection with the implementation of the retail electricity market.

In an en banc session Tuesday, the SC magistrates ordered the respondents to comment, within a non-extendible period of 10 days, to the petition for certiorari filed by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry, San Beda College Alabang Inc., Ateneo de Manila University and the Riverbanks Development Corporation.

In their petition, they asked the SC to stop the implementation of five circulars of the DOE and the ERC that compelled consumers with a monthly average peak demand of 1 Megawatt (MW) to leave their current power supply contracts and enter into a new retail supply contract with any of the 23 accredited electric suppliers chosen by the ERC.

The petitioners particularly assailed five issuances of the Commission and called it "unconstitutional" for usurping legislative authority, violating the right to due process and equal protection and non-impairment clause as well as for being an unreasonable exercise of the police power.

The challenged circulars issued by the respondents are the following:

a) DOE Circular No. DC2015-06-0010 (Providing Policies to Facilitate the Full Implementation of Retail Competition and Open Access (RCOA) in the Philippe Electric Power Industry);

b) ERC Resolution No. 05 (Series of 2016) (A Resolution Adopting the 2016 Rules Governing the Issuance of Licenses to Retail Electricity Suppliers (RES) and Prescribing the Requirements and Conditions Therefor);

c) ERC Resolution No. 10 (Series of 2016) (Adopting the Revised Rules for Contestability);

d) ERC resolution No. 11 (Series of 2016) (Imposing Restrictions on the operations of Distribution Utilities and Retail Electricity Suppliers in the Competitive Retail Electricity Market); and

e) ERC Resolution No. 28 (Series of 2016) (Revised Timeframe for Mandatory Contestability, Amending Resolution No. 10)

Named respondents to the case are Energy Secretary Alfonso Cusi, ERC Chair Jose Vicente Salazar, ERC Commissioners Alfredo Non, Gloria Victoria Yap-Taruc, Josefina Patricia Asirit and Geronimo Sta. Ana. (SunStar Philippines)