By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
PANAY Electric Co. (PECO) said the denial of the Court of Appeals (CA) in Cebu City of its petition against rival firm MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) is already moot and academic since the case is already with the Supreme Court (SC).
The ruling of the CA’s 18th Division issued on October 3, 2019 junked the petition of PECO to suspend or stop the expropriation case filed by MORE Power in an attempt to take over PECO’s assets.
The appellate court reiterated that it has no jurisdiction to restrain and/or enjoin the expropriation case.
The CA’s 18th Division also justified MORE Power’s legislative franchise under RA 11212, emphasizing that the franchise including the power of eminent domain is pursuant to the EPIRA Law or RA 9136.
“Considering that the passage of RA 11212 was done to carry out the EPIRA, MORE’s exercise of the powers granted to it under its Legislative Franchise, which includes the power of eminent domain, is also considered an implementation of the EPIRA. Otherwise stated, the expropriation case and the incidents thereon, particularly the application for the issuance of the WOP (writ of possession), were meant to carry out the EPIRA,” the ruling read.
In a statement, PECO said that they already filed with the CA on Sept 24, 2019 a motion to withdraw its petition due to the fact that the case was already with the Supreme Court at that time.
“The CA cannot deny a petition that has already been withdrawn,” PECO said in the statement.
PECO also reiterated the decision of the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 209 declaring Sections 10 and 17 of RA No. 11212 (MORE Power’s congressional franchise) “void and unconstitutional for infringing on PECO’s rights to due process and equal protection of the law”.
“The Mandaluyong RTC already issued a decision on July 11, 2019 declaring as void and unconstitutional Sections 10 and 17 of RA 11212 ‘for infringing PECO”s rights to due process and equal protection of the law’ and ordering a permanent halting of the expropriation proceedings,” it added.
Sec. 10 of RA 11212 authorizes MORE Power to exercise the power of eminent domain in so far as it may be reasonable and necessary for the efficient establishment, improvement, upgrading, rehabilitation, maintenance and operation.
Sec. 17 allows PECO to operate the existing distribution system within the franchise area until MORE Power establishes its own distribution system which shall not exceed two years from the grant of the franchise.
PECO is locked in a protracted legal battle with MORE Power in a bid to control power distribution in Iloilo City.
After securing its congressional franchise, MORE Power filed an expropriation case against PECO pursuant to the provisions of RA 11212.
Iloilo RTC Branch 37 Presiding Judge Yvette Go granted MORE’s application for a writ of possession (WOP) against PECO’s assets.
Right after the decision, Go inhibited herself from the expropriation of the case which was raffled to RTC Branch 35 presided by Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular.
Recently, MORE Power filed a motion to inhibit against Amular for perceived bias.