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Lawmaker asks Duterte to step into MORE-PECO legal battle

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A party-list congressman is asking President Duterte to step in the on-going expropriation battle between MORE Power (More Electric and Power Corporation) and Panay Electric Company (PECO).

Abang Lingkod Party-list Representative Joseph Stephen Paduano said in an interview that hewas concerned about the alleged interference by some judicial officials who, he claimed, were favoring MORE over PECO.

These alleged interference paved the way for a series of controversial and unusual inhibitions by RTC judges in the franchise-related expropriation case.

“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,” said Paduano.

He said despite MORE’s lack of power distribution facilities in Iloilo City, MORE was granted the franchise to distribution electricity in Iloilo City, which was previously held by PEO for almost a hundred years.

“The forced takeover of Peco properties only shows that MORE does not actually have the capacity to set up its own distribution infrastructure,” said Paduano.

The grant 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.

Teh courts stated 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 stating that MORE’s lawyer asked him to inhibit from the expropriation case. He initially said that he wwould defy the threat but later on decided to give up the case anyway.

After Amular, Judge Ma. Theresa Gaspar of RTC Branch 33 and Judge Gloria Madero of Iloilo RTC Branch 29 also inhibited 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.