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It’s now battle of court orders in fight for Iloilo power distribution

/ 01:19 PM August 19, 2019

ILOILO CITY ––It’s a battle of court decisions between two companies fighting over the distribution of electricity here and areas in Panay Island after one of the companies, owned by port tycoon Enrique Razon, was allowed by a court here to seize assets of Panay Electric Co (Peco), the power utility servicing the city since the 1920s.

Lawyer Hector Teodosio, legal counsel of More Power Electric Company (More Power) in the expropriation complaint against Peco, said he has secured a certified true copy of the order issued by Judge Marie Yvette Go, presiding judge of the Iloilo RTC Branch 37 which issued the order.

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After issuing the writ of possession, however, Judge Go inhibited herself from the case, which was raffled off to another Judge, Daniel Antonio Amolar, of Iloilo RTC Branch 35. No writ of execution had been issued.

But Peco has its own court decision that stops More from taking control of its assets. The decision was issued by a Mandaluyong City court.

The Iloilo court has granted the application of More to take possession of distribution assets of Peco, according to the lawyer of Razon’s company.

Teodosio quoted part of the order dated August 14: “The application for the issuance of a writ of possession is granted. The deputy sheriff of this court or other proper officer is hereby ordered to forthwith place More in possession of the property involved and submit a report.”

Teodosio said he has not received an official copy of the order sent by mail.

“We will take over the assets when the sheriff serves the order,” he told the INQUIRER.

He said only a temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals or Supreme Court can stop the takeover.

The court will still determine the amount for just compensation for Peco’s assets estimated to be worth more than P480 million.

Peco has also not received a copy of the order but issued a statement Sunday evening (Aug 17) in reaction to reports on social media.

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“Peco is aghast to say the least at such brazenness. Such order is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” according to the statement issued by Marcelo Cacho, Peco administrative officer.

It cited the July 1 decision of the Mandaluyong RTC barring More from expropriating Peco’s distribution assets. 

The Mandaluyong court also ruled that Section 10 (right of eminent domain) and Section 17 (transition of operations) of Republic Act 11212 (the franchise law granted to More) as void and unconstitutional for infringing on Peco’s right to “due process and equal protection of the law.”

RA 11212 signed by President Duterte on February 14 granted a 25-year franchise to More as Iloilo City’s power distributor.

“While the said judgment was appealed by More (before) the Supreme Court with prayer for injunctive relief, the High Tribunal has not issued any temporary restraining order against the implementation of the injunction,” Peco said.

“Judge Go’s order is a most shocking anomaly as it flouts even the authority of the Supreme Court by arrogantly pre-empting its ruling,” said Peco.

“This was made possible by More’s flagrant forum shopping by seeking concurrent remedies before various courts, including the High Court. As such, both Judge Go and More are committing not only contempt against the RTC Mandaluyong but also against the Supreme Court,” it said.

Peco said it will “enforce and implement the final injunction of RTC of Mandaluyong restraining the takeover and possession of Peco’s assets.”

Peco’s franchise expired on Jan. 18, but the Energy Regulatory Commission has granted a provisional Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to Peco to continue distributing power in Iloilo City staving off disruption of power supply to consumers amid the continuing legal dispute between the two firms. /TSB

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TAGS: courts, decision, Iloilo City, Peco, power, Razon, utility
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