Iloilo RTC holds off hearings on Panay power firm take over
ILOILO CITY –– The Iloilo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) has suspended the hearings on the expropriation of distribution assets of Panay Electric Company (Peco) by rival firm More Power Electric Corp. (More Power) pending the resolution of a related case before the Supreme Court.
In a three-page order dated November 18, Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular of the Iloilo City RTC Branch 35, directed the suspension of the proceedings “in the interest of judicial fairness, respect to the Honorable Supreme Court and for practical considerations.”
The suspension of the hearings effectively delays the resolution of the legal dispute between the rival firms that threatens the electric distribution system in the city.
The judge said in his order that the case is “extraordinary” noting that it not only involves procedural rules but also Republic Act 11212, which granted More Power a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
The Mandaluyong RTC in July declared Section 10 (right of eminent domain) and Section 17 (transition of operations) of RA 11212 as void and unconstitutional for infringing on Peco’s rights to due process and equal protection of the law.
More Power has filed a petition for review on certiorari questioning the Mandaluyong RTC ruling before the Second Division of the Supreme Court.
“The question of constitutionality is of paramount importance in the interest of legal and procedural fairness given the novelty of the case. Indeed, the ruling of the Honorable Supreme Court will guide this court whether the authority conferred upon (More Power) as a quasi-public corporation by Congress has been correctly or properly exercised by it,” Amular said in his order.
More Power, owned by shipping magnate Enrique Razon Jr., is seeking to expropriate Peco’s distribution assets valued at least P481,842,450 based on Republic Act 11212.
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 to prevent any disruption of power supply to consumers amid the continuing legal dispute between the rival firms.
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