Third judge stays away from Iloilo power firm’s case
ILOILO CITY, Iloilo, Philippines — The expropriation case against Panay Electric Co. Inc. (Peco) has been delayed further after a third judge inhibited from the case.
In an order dated Jan. 24,
Judge Ma. Theresa Enriquez-¬Gaspar, presiding judge of the Iloilo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 33, cited possible conflicts of interests.
Gaspar said the husband of a branch clerk is an official of petitioner More Electric Power Corp. (More Power). The judge also pointed out that she is a “very close friend” of top officials and owners of Peco.
More Power, owned by businessman Enrique Razon Jr., on March 11 last year filed an expropriation complaint against Peco after the former was granted a 25-year franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City.
It is seeking to expropriate Peco’s distribution assets va¬lued at least P481,842,450.
Under Republic Act No. 11212 signed by President Duterte on Feb. 14 last year, More Power is given two years to acquire or put up its own distribution facilities.
Peco’s franchise expired on Jan. 18, 2019, but the Energy Re¬gulatory Commission has given Peco a provisional certificate of public convenience and necessity to continue distributing power in Iloilo City until More Power is capable of taking over the power distribution.
The case was raffled off to RTC Branch 33 after Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular, presiding judge of the Iloilo City RTC Branch 35, inhibited himself from the case.
SuspensionIn his order dated Jan. 15, Amular said “it has come to a point that whatever judgment the presiding judge would render in the case would not be accepted by either the plaintiff or the defendant or may be tainted with bias.”
Amular had suspended the proceedings on the expropriation case before he inhibited from the case. He cited related cases pending for resolution in the Supreme Court.
More Power subsequently filed an administrative complaint against Amular in the Supreme Court.
The case was first handled by Judge Yvette Go of RTC Branch 37.
Go granted More Power’s application for the issuance of a writ of possession on Aug. 14, 2019, before she inhibited from the case.
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