A party-list congressman asked President Duterte to step in the ongoing expropriation battle between MORE Power and Panay Electric Company, amid reports of possible interference by some Supreme Court officials.
Abang Lingkod Party-list Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano said that he is seriously concerned about the alleged interference by some SC officials, as previously reported in the news.
These alleged interference purportedly paved the way for a series of controversial and unusual inhibitions by RTC judges in the franchise-related expropriation case.
Paduano also referred to the recent controversial orders favorable to More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE).
Paduano stressed that, “The only way we can stop this abuse of our legal system is if President Duterte himself looks into all these unusual and irregular events which have come to taint the integrity of the judiciary.”
Despite MORE’s lack of power distribution facilities in Iloilo City and the company’s lack of experience in the area of power distribution, MORE was granted the franchise to distribution electricity in Iloilo City, which was previously held by the Panay Electric Company (PECO) for almost a hundred years.
The grant of the controversial franchise to MORE led to its effort to take over the power distribution assets of PECO. The forced take-over of PECO properties only shows that MORE does not actually have the capacity to set up its own distribution infrastructure.
Paduano also mentioned the unusual series of inhibitions and controversial orders by the Iloilo RTC judges who were assigned to handle the expropriation case filed by MORE against PECO.
As of this writing, four judges have already inhibited from the case. After Judge Yvette Go of RTC Branch 37 issued a resolution for the expropriation case filed by MORE against PECO to proceed, she suddenly inhibited herself from further acting on the case.
Go’s court ruling contradicted an earlier decision of the Mandaluyong RTC Branch 209 declaring RA 11212, the law which granted MORE the franchise for power distribution in Iloilo, as “void and unconstitutional for infringing on PECO’s rights to due process and equal protection of the law.”
Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular took over the reins and issued a resolution suspending the proceeding in the expropriation case, saying that the Supreme Court had already ruled in another case that “the issue of constitutionality would be like a prejudicial question to the expropriation as it would be a waste of time and effort to appoint evaluation of commissioners and debate the market value of the property sought to be condemned if it turned out that the condemnation was illegal.
Amular later issued a statement to the press stating that MORE’s lawyer asked him to inhibit from the expropriation case. He initially said that he will be defying the threat and will not be inhibiting but later on decided to give up the case anyway.
Amular’s inhibition from the case was followed by similar actions of two more judges – Judge Ma. Theresa Gaspar of RTC Branch 33 and Judge Gloria Madero of Iloilo RTC Branch 29 – citing various reasons.
The case is now handled by Judge Emerald Kuizon Requina-Contreras of Iloilo RTC Branch 23 who recently issued a pro-MORE order reiterating the grant of the writ of possession.
House sources who refused to be named claimed that two ranking SC officials are “working” with gambling and ports magnate Enrique Razon Jr. to allegedly put undue pressure on Judge Contreras who is now handling the Iloilo power play case.
The same sources said that on the day of MORE’s illegal takeover of PECO’s sub-stations, Razon personally flew into Iloilo and was happily welcomed and escorted by top police officials.
It can be recalled that strong-willed Davao City Mayor and Presidential daughter Sara Duterte has consistently opposed the appointment of Midas Marquez as a justice of the SC saying that Marquez once offered to take care of a pending court case for her in exchange for political considerations.
The Davao City mayor said that what Marquez did is enough reason to bar him from assuming a judicial post that demands a high degree of integrity.