The Supreme Court (SC) denied the petition of Panay Electric Co. (PECO) to move outside of Iloilo City the expropriation case filed by distribution utility More Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power).
In a resolution dated Dec. 4, 2019, the SC denied PECO’s appeal that the hearing of the expropriation case be moved to any court in Metro Manila, or as an alternative, to consolidate it with the case pending then with the Mandaluyong Regional Trial Court (RTC) questioning the constitutionality of the expropriation powers given to the new utility by Congress.
Notably, the resolution came a month before the suggestion of Iloilo City judge Daniel Antonio Amular to the SC that the expropriation case which he was handling be transferred outside Iloilo City after officials of MORE Power alleged that he was biased.
In its resolution, the SC rejected PECO’s petition citing that the latter failed to present adequate proof that the accompanying publicity may cause prejudice to the case, apart from failing to prove that a “miscarriage” of justice would happen if the case continues to be heard in the RTC of Iloilo City.
It added that mere possibility of prejudice is not sufficient to justify a transfer of venue for the case.
Earlier, MORE Power asked the SC to remove Amular as the judge handling the case, accusing him of bias in favor of PECO when he allegedly ordered officials of MORE Power to come to a conference in his chambers with officials of PECO, citing other cases where parties in dispute purportedly agreed to share ownership of the new company.
Amular subsequently released a statement calling for the transfer of the case outside Iloilo City, claiming that it has been “too politicized.”