By: Emme Rose Santiagudo
Panay Electric Co. (PECO) will appeal the order of the Supreme Court en banc to restrain the ruling of the Regional Trial Court in Mandaluyong City declaring as unconstitutional portions of the franchise of rival firm MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).
PECO lawyer Estrella Elamparo said they were surprised by the Dec. 3, 2019 resolution of the SC en banc on G.R. No. 248061 (MORE Power v PECO) which stopped Mandaluyong City RTC Branch 209 Judge Monique A. Quisumbing-Ignacio and PECO from implementing the July 1, 2019 judgment in Civil Case No. R-MND-19-00571 (PECO v MORE Power, et al).
The RTC ruling declared as void and unconstitutional Sections 10 and 17 of Republic Act No. 11212, the law which gave MORE Power the franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City.
Section 10 of RA 11212 authorizes MORE to exercise the power of eminent domain and acquire such private property as is actually necessary for the realization of the purpose for which the franchise is granted. Section 17 states the power of MORE, as grantee, to effectively acquire power distribution assets. The distribution assets that exist within the franchise area could only refer to those of PECO.
The Mandaluyong RTC’s ruling also made permanent a temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued on March 14, 2019, which stopped the enforcement of RA 11212.
Based on the SC resolution, the TRO against RTC Branch 209 and PECO is “effective immediately and continuing until further orders from this Court.”
Elamparo said the recent SC decision is surprising as the High Tribunal’s Second Division already denied MORE Power’s motion for a TRO against the RTC 209 ruling.
“Nagulat kami kasi nauna ng dine-ny ng Judicial SC yung prayer for TRO ng MORE Power but now the SC en banc granted the same motion,” Estrella Elamparo said in a phone interview on Wednesday.
The Second Division of SC denied the resolution prayer for issuance of a TRO and/or writ of preliminary injunction of MORE Power assailing the decision of RTC Branch 209 in a resolution issued on August 14, 2019.
Elamparo said they will “respectfully” ask the SC to reconsider the recent ruling.
“Definitely hihingi kami ng pahintulot sa SC na ireconsider nila yung granting of the TRO kasi sa halos madaling panahon, wala namang pangyayari, pagbabago doon sa panahon na dineny yung prayer for TRO,” she said.
MORE Power is attempting to replace Iloilo City’s power distributor PECO after securing its congressional franchise in February 2014.
It also filed with the SC a petition for review on certiorari against the RTC 209 ruling.
Meanwhile, Elamparo said the recent ruling of SC has no effect and cannot dictate RTC Branch 35 in Iloilo City to continue with the expropriation case filed by MORE Power against PECO.
“Yung suspension ng proceedings sa Iloilo ay walang kinalaman kung merong TRO or wala na inissue yung SC. The TRO only concerns RTC Mandaluyong hindi siya nag-uutos sa RTC Iloilo na ipagpatuloy yung expro case kasi TRO can only restrain it does not mandate anything,” she said.
Branch 35 has suspended further proceedings over the expropriation case filed by MORE Power against PECO in an order issued on Nov 18.
RTC Branch 35 Presiding Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular ordered “to suspend further proceedings in this case in the interest of judicial fairness, respect to the Honorable Supreme Court and for practical considerations.”
Amular also denied the Motion for Inhibition filed against him by MORE Power for “lack of factual basis.”
Iloilo RTC Branch 37 had granted MORE Power’s application for a writ of possession relative to the expropriation case. But the case was re-raffled to RTC Branch 35 after the presiding judge inhibited from the case.