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Ba’t pinapaboran? Lacson questions need to give franchise to Legarda son’s solar firm

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Senator Panfilo Lacson has questioned the need to give a 25-year franchise to the solar power firm owned by Senator Loren Legarda’s son.

During the interpellation on the bill Wednesday (May 22), Lacson said there’s no need to give Solar Para Sa Bayan (SPSB) a congressional franchise because it was in the business of power generation.

The Electric Power Industry Reform Act of 2001 (EPIRA) provides that only firms engaged in transmission and distribution require a franchise.

Lacson also warned that granting a franchise to SPSB might violate the anti-competitive clause in the EPIRA.

“If we grant them the franchise, they will have exclusive right to operate in those areas. Therefore, they will deny other qualified third parties so they will go through competitive process. If that’s the case why do we need a franchise for SPSB?” he asked.

SPSB, which is owned by Legarda’s son, Leandro Leviste, wants a franchise so it could engage in power supply, generation, transmission and distribution. It claims to be bent on serving the unserved and underserved areas in the country.

Lacson warned that granting a franchise to SPSB will set a precedent with regards to the nature of a congressional franchise.

“(W)e’re actually amending EPIRA. Sabi kanina ng sponsor iba ang definition ng unviable sa unserved and underserved. If that’s the case we’re amending the EPIRA law,” he said, referring to the bill’s sponsor, Senator Grace Poe.

Despite Lacson’s reservations, the Senate approved on second reading the bill providing a congressional franchise too SPSB.

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