ILOILO City – “Unprecedented and patently invalid.”
This was how Panay Electric Co. (PECO) described the Aug. 14, 2019 ruling of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 37 granting MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) a writ of possession to take over PECO’s assets.
“(We are) aghast, to say the least, at such brazenness. Such order is a blatant violation of the Constitution,” according to PECO in a statement.
The expropriation provisions of Republic Act 11212 (the legislative franchise of MORE Power) had already been declared unconstitutional by the RTC of Mandaluyong City, asserted PECO.
As early as July 1, 2019, a permanent injunction was issued against MORE Power from pursuing expropriation, it stressed.
MORE Power appealed RTC Mandaluyong’s ruling to the Supreme Court with a prayer for injunctive relief.
PECO, however, said the High Tribunal has not yet issued any order against the implementation of the injunction such as issuing a temporary restraining order (TRO).
“Hanggang po sa mga minutong ito ay wala pa silang nakukuhang TRO kaya walang karapatan ang MORE Power at sinuman na suwayin ang judgment na na-issue ng RTC Mandaluyong. Dahil tama po sila, Korte Suprema lamang ang makakapagpigil by the way of a TRO,” said Atty. Estrella Elamparo, PECO’s legal counsel.
PECO’s official statement described the RTC Branch 37 decision as “a most shocking anomaly as it flouts even the authority of the Supreme Court by arrogantly preempting its ruling.”
This, according to the city’s sole power distributor for 95 years, was made possible by MORE Power’s “flagrant forum shopping by seeking concurrent remedies before various courts”, including the High Court.
“As such, both (RTC Branch 37) Judge (Yvette) Go and MORE Power are committing not only contempt against the RTC Mandaluyong but also against the Supreme Court,” read part of the PECO statement.
PECO vowed to take all legal remedies possible. Elamparo said these included a possible filing of charges against Go.
“Kasama po ‘yan sa aming pinag-aaralan. Definitely ang isang order na unconstitutional, ang isang order na pambabastos sa Korte Suprema ay hindi dapat sundin at hindi dapat na-issue in the first place,” Elamparo said over DyRI RMN Iloilo radio station.
PECO declared it would implement the final injunction of RTC Mandaluyong restraining the takeover and possession of its assets without prejudice to other legal and administrative remedies that it shall exercise “to the fullest extent of the law” against both MORE Power and RTC Branch 37.
Meanwhile, MORE Power expressed confidence that the takeover of PECO’s power distribution assets would push through.
Atty. Hector Teodosio, legal counsel of MORE Power, said all properties of PECO involved in power distribution would be expropriated.
He said these would include offices, softwares, motor vehicles and equipment, all power substations, cables, power lines, and electric meters, primary and secondary lines, among others.
As to when the takeover would take place, Teodosio said it could happen anytime.
“Because wala na sang makabalabag sina. We are now making preparations kay kadako sang properties nga involved. Most likely indi magnubo sa napulo ukon kinse ka-sheriffs sang RTC will be involved. It will be supported by a maximum force of law enforcement agents to ensure peace and order kag malikawan ang possible sabotage especially sa mga substations,” said Teodosio.
The lawyer, however, clarified that the court will still hear the expropriation case to determine the true value of PECO’s properties for just compensation.
MORE Power initially deposited P480 million in the bank for compensation to PECO.
According to Teodosio, if PECO would only agree to it, the case would already be deemed finished and MORE Power could start operating as owner of the power distribution system of PECO./PN