Too much politics in expro case – judge

By: Francis Allan L. Angelo and Emme Rose Santiagudo

A Regional Trial Court (RTC) judge in Iloilo pushed for the transfer of the expropriation case filed by MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE) against Panay Electric Co. (PECO).

In a statement, RTC Branch 35 Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular said the expropriation case has been “too politicized.”

“This case has been observed to have become too politicized. It may be respectfully suggested for best interest of the parties that this case be transferred outside the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court of Iloilo to be tried and heard by the designated judge therein,” Judge Amular said in a statement issued on Thursday.

Amular issued the statement after MORE President and COO Roel Castro and legal counsel Hector Teodosio filed administrative cases against him before the Supreme Court for grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

The charges came to fore after Amular suspended the expropriation case after the SC En Banc issued a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), dated Dec 3, 2019. The TRO directed the Regional Trial Court Branch 209 in Mandaluyong City and Panay Electric Company “to cease and desist from implementing the judgment dated July 1, 2019 issued in Civil Case No.R-MND-19-00571, which among others, declared void and unconstitutional Section 10 and 17 of Republic Act No. 11212 and made permanent the Restraining Order dated March 14, 2019.”

RA 11212 granted MORE the congressional franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City, replacing PECO whose franchise expired in January 2019.

But PECO continues to operate within a two-year transition period provided by RA 11212 to ensure continuous power supply in Iloilo City.

Amular said Teodosio asked him “to just inhibit himself from the case,” but the judge refused as the latter failed to present a viable justification.

Amular said he advised Teodosio to wait for the SC decision on the case filed by his client that questioned the decision of the RTC Mandaluyong City.



Judge Amular said “the administrative complaint as publicized is based on allegations.”

“It is a basic legal precept that he who alleges must prove, and that mere allegations by themselves would not be given weight because it does not amount to evidence. The Presiding Judge last December 17, 2019 had already written the Honorable Court Administrator regarding the complaint of Atty. Teodosio. In due time, when required, the Presiding Judge will accordingly answer the allegations with competent and admissible evidence,” he added.

Amular also asked guidance from SC Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta if his court “can proceed notwithstanding the pending case before the Supreme Court filed by plaintiff More as to the constitutionality of Section 10 (Right of Eminent Domain) and Section 17 (Transition of Operations) of Republic Act No. 11212.”

“The Presiding Judge has had numerous expropriation cases which were disposed promptly in the past. The present expropriation case is a case of first impression. There has been no precedent of this case ever filed before the entire Philippine judiciary to the best of his knowledge given the present factual setting. So many legal issues confront the court, hence it is most unfair to charge the court that it is delaying the case.”

Amular said he is mindful of the rules that require them to be fair and independent in all cases they hear.

But he also reminded complainants that administrative complaints against judges are “not the appropriate remedy for every irregular or erroneous order or decision issued by a judge.

He added that judicial remedies are available, such as a motion for reconsideration, an appeal, or a petition for certiorari.

A petition for certiorari asks the Supreme Court to review the decision of a lower court

“Disciplinary proceedings against a judge are not complementary or suppletory to, nor a substitute for these judicial remedies whether ordinary or extraordinary. Besides, to hold a judge administratively accountable for every erroneous ruling or decision rendered, assuming he has erred, would be nothing short of harassment and would make his position doubly unbearable,” Judge Amular said.