MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) has filed an administrative complaint before the Supreme Court seeking the removal of a Regional Trial Court judge in Iloilo hearing its expropriation case against franchise-less Panay Electric Co. Inc. (PECO).
In a 33-page complaint lodged on Dec. 12, MORE Power accused Iloilo RTC Branch 35 Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular of grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.
“All told, the actuations, utterances of the respondent judge, and his issuance of the order dated November 18, 2019 showed that he is underserving to stay as a judge. He should be removed,” read the complaint filed by company’s president and COO Roel Z. Castro and legal counsel Hector Teodosio.
The administrative complaint stemmed from the manner by which Amular handled the expropriation case in a bid to take over PECO’s power distribution assets upon payment of just compensation.
The power distributor filed the expropriation case after securing its congressional franchise to distribute power in Iloilo City through Republic Act No. 11212 which President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law on Feb. 14.
PECO’s franchise expired on Jan. 18, 2019 but it was allowed to operate within a two-year transition period provided under the law to ensure that there is no disruption in power supply in Iloilo City.
Based on the complaint, MORE Power accused Amular of violating Canons 1 and 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct “when he held a private conference inside his chamber attended by Roel Castro and Mikel Afzelius (of PECO) but prohibit(ed) the lawyers of MORE and PECO from attending.”
The chamber conference happened on Sept 23, 2019 at the Iloilo Hall of Justice.
The complaint alleged tha Amular “threatened and scared MORE Power that he could delay the proceedings and even advised MORE Officer Roel Castro not to discuss the matter with its counsel.”
The complaint also claimed that Amular “scolded and reprimanded” Castro in open court without giving the latter “the opportunity to know the charge and to explain his side which is in violation of Canon 3 Rule 3.04 of the Canons of Judicial Ethics.” This refers to the Sept 13, 2019 hearing where the judge reprimanded Castro for allegedlyviolating the court’s gag order and ordered Castro to apologize forgranting an interview with this paper.
Canon 3 states that a judge should perform official duties honestly,and with impartiality and diligence.
The third charge against Amular is the alleged delay in theimplementation of the writ of possession issued by another judge whopreviously handled the case in August 2019.
The WOP will empower MORE Power to take over PECO assets. MORE alsodeposited more than P481 million as just compensation for PECO’sassets in compliance with the expropriation rules.