Power distributor wants Iloilo judge dismissed
ILOILO CITY –– Power distributor More Electric Corp. (More Power) is seeking the dismissal of an Iloilo judge for allegedly among others delaying the implementation of the writ of possession covering distribution assets of rival firm Panay Electric Company (Peco).
In a 32-page administrative complaint filed before the Supreme Court on December 12, More Power President Roel Castro and legal counsel Hector Teodosio accused Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular, presiding judge of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court Branch 35, of “grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and violation of the Code of Judicial Ethics.”
The complainants questioned Amular’s actions concerning the expropriation case pending before the court.
These include alleged delays in the implementation of the writ of possession covering Peco’s distribution assets despite an earlier order of another court branch granting the issuance of a writ of possession.
“The authority to issue and implement the writ of possession is ministerial. This is elementary jurisprudence,” according to their complaint.
They said Amular’s November 18 order suspending proceedings on the expropriation case until the Supreme Court resolves a related case was “nebulous, and bereft of legal basis.”
The complainants also cited Amular’s private conference with officials of the two companies and directing them to submit settlement proposals but barring the presence of their respective lawyers.
They also accused Amular of delaying the expropriation case by summoning representatives of the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) to testify on the assets of Peco that would be covered by expropriation but failing to implement the writ of possession even after the testimony of ERC representatives.
Amular also allegedly embarrassed More President Roel Castro in open court when he scolded the official without providing the reason and the opportunity for Castro to explain his side.
“All told, the actuations, utterances of the respondent Judge, and his issuance of the Order dated November 18, 2019, showed that he is undeserving to stay on as a judge. He should be removed,” according to the complaint.
Amular had earlier denied a petition of More Power to inhibit himself in the case.
“The conscience of the presiding judge is clear,” he had said in his order suspending the proceedings.
Amular also defended the chamber meeting with the litigants without their lawyers.
“Indeed, the Supreme Court held that it is not, however, an indispensable prerequisite although it is advisable that efforts to secure an amicable settlement be first made before condemnation proceedings be instituted,” he said in his order.
More Power, which was granted a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City, is seeking to expropriate Peco’s distribution assets valued at least P481,842,450 based on Republic Act 11212.
Under RA 11212 signed by President Duterte on February 14, More is given two years to acquire or put up its distribution facilities.
Peco’s franchise expired on Jan. 18 but the ERC 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.
The Mandaluyong City RTC had declared as void and unconstitutional Section 10 (right of eminent domain) and Section 17 (transition of operations) of RA 11212.
But in an en banc resolution issued on December 3, the high court ordered the issuance of a temporary restraining order enjoining the Peco and the Mandaluyong City RTC from implementing the RTC’s ruling.
Edited by Lzb
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.