MORE lawmakers have joined as co-authors of a bill that seeks to extend the franchise of a power distribution utility to 15 towns outside Iloilo City.

Iloilo City Lone District Representative Julienne "Jam" Baronda signed as co-author of House Bill (HB) 10306, which amended HB 10271 and 10258 sponsored by Iloilo Representatives Michael Gorriceta and Braeden John Biron of the Second District and Fourth Districts of Iloilo, respectively.

HB 10271 and 10258 seek to change certain sections of Republic Act (RA) 11212, which granted More Electric and Power Corporation (More Power) a distribution utility franchise for Iloilo City.

The two bills were tagged as HB 10306 on September 30 after several changes were made in the first two measures.

Gorriceta, Biron and Palawan Representative Franz Alvarez are the sponsors of the new bill.

Those who joined them as authors after the amendments were Baronda, Edward Vera Perez Maceda, Luis Ferrer IV, and Jericho Jonas Nograles.

Baronda, Maceda, Ferrer, and Nograles are all members of the majority of the Committee on Legislative Franchises under the chairmanship of Alvarez.

Baronda said the people saw the positive effect since the electricity rate dropped starting June 2021.

"We saw from P9.50-10 per kilowatt hour (kWh), it went down to P6.50 per kWh," Baronda said.

"Now, I am very happy that I have a very good choice and a good decision and a stand during the public hearing whether or not give More Power a franchise (RA 11212) or not," she added.

HB 10306, as substitution of HB 10258 and 10271, is also now known as “An act amending Sections 1, 15, and 21 of Republic Act 11212, entitled ‘An act granting More Electric and Power Corporation a franchise to establish, operate and maintain, for commercial purposes and in the public interest, a distribution system for the conveyance of electric power to the end-users in the City of Iloilo, Province of Iloilo, and ensuring the continuous and uninterrupted supply of electricity in the franchise area.”

Amendments (in bold letters) were made to the following sections of RA 11212.

* “SECTION 1. Nature and Scope of Franchise. - Subject to the provisions of the Constitution and applicable laws, rules and regulations, there is hereby granted to MORE Electric and Power Corporation, hereunder referred to as the [g]Grantee, its successors or assignees, a franchise to establish, operate, and maintain, for commercial purposes and in the public interest, a distribution system for the conveyance of electric power to end users in the [City] Cities of Iloilo and Passi and the Municipalities of Alimodian, Leganes, Leon, New Lucena, Pavia, San Miguel, Santa Barbara, Zarraga, Anilao, Banate, Barotac Nuevo, Dingle, Duenas, Dumangas and San Enrique, in the Province of Iloilo.”

* “SECTION 15. Sale, Lease, Transfer, Grant of Usufruct, or Assignment of Franchise. The [g]Grantee shall not sell, lease, transfer, grant the usufruct of, nor assign this franchise or the rights and privileges acquired thereunder to any person, firm, company, corporation or other commercial or legal entity, nor merge with any other corporation or entity, nor shall transfer the controlling interest of the [g]Grantee, whether as a whole or in part, and whether simultaneously or contemporaneously, to any person, firm, company, corporation, or entity without the prior approval of the Congress[-]of the Philippines and IN compliance with legal requirements stipulated in other statutes: Provided, That, during the period before the dispersal of its ownership under Section 16, the [g]Grantee shall notify Congress in writing of any sale, or transfer of its shares less than the controlling interest: Provided, further, That failure to report to Congress such change of ownership shall render the franchise ipso facto revoked: [Provided, finally That any person or entity to which this franchise is sold, transferred, or assigned shall be subject to the same conditions, terms, restrictions, and limitations of this Act:] provided, furthermore, that the limitations set forth in this section shall not apply to: (A) Any transfer or issuance of shares of stock in the implementation of the requirements for the dispersal of the grantee’s ownership pursuant to Section 16 of this Act; (B) Any transfer or sale of shares of stock to a foreign or local investor or investors who will not participate in the management of the grantee; (C) Any issuance of shares to any foreign or local investors pursuant to or in connection with any increase in the grantee’s authorized capital stock which shall result in the dilution of the stockholdings of the grantee’s then existing stockholders; (D) Any combination thereof where such transfer, sale or issuance is effected in order to enable the grantee to raise the necessary capital or financing for the provision of any of the services authorized by this Act; and (E) Any sale, transfer, or assignment of shares of the grantee in favor of an affiliate whose controlling interest is owned by the same parent corporation of the grantee; provided, finally, that any such transfer, sale, or issuance is in accordance with any applicable constitutional limitations. Any person or entity to which this franchise is sold, transferred, or assigned shall be subject to the same conditions, terms, restrictions, and limitations to this act.”

* “SEC. 21. Equality Clause.- Any advantage, favor, privilege, exemption, or immunity granted under existing franchises, or which may hereafter be granted to power distribution franchises, upon prior review and approval of Congress, shall become part of this franchise and shall be accorded immediately and unconditionally to the herein grantee: Provided, That the foregoing shall neither apply to nor affect provisions [of broadcasting franchises pertaining to] concerning territorial coverage, the term, and the type of service [, or territorial coverage of] authorized by the franchise.”

RA 11212, signed in February 2019, is also known as “An Act Granting More Electric and Power Corporation a Franchise to Establish, Operate, and Maintain, for Commercial Purposes and in the Public Interest, a Distribution System for the Conveyance of Electric Power to the End Users in the City of Iloilo, Province of Iloilo, and Ensuring the Continuous and Uninterrupted Supply of Electricity in the Franchise Area.”