Republic v. Manila Electric Company

391 SCRA 700 (2002)

Regulation of rates to be charged by public utilities is founded upon the police power of the State and statutes prescribing rules for the control and regulation of public utilities are a valid exercise thereof. When private property is used for a public purpose and is affected with public interest, it ceases to be juris privati only becomes subject to regulation. Submission to regulation may be withdrawn by the owner by discontinuing use but as long as the use of the property is continued, the same is subject to public regulation. In regulating rates charged by public utilities, the State protects the public against arbitrary and excessive rates while maintaining the efficiency and quality of services rendered. However, the power to regulate rates does not give the State the right to prescribe rates which are so low as to deprive the public utility of a reasonable return on investment. Thus, the rates prescribed by the State must be one that yields a fair return omn public utility upon the value of the property performing the service and one that is reasonable to the public for the services rendered. The fixing of just and reasonable rates involves a balancing of the investor and the consumer interests.