Dec 5, 2019 @ 13:03

SC issues TRO versus ruling that struck down More Power’s eminent domain rights as unconstitutional

The Supreme Court (SC) has issued a temporary restraining order (TRO) against the enforcement of a Mandaluyong City court decision that struck down the eminent domain rights granted to More Power Electric Corp. as unconstitutional.

In a recent en banc resolution, the SC said the TRO on the July 1 decision of the Mandaluyong City Regional Trial Court (RTC) against More Power’s franchise would be “effective immediately and continuing until further orders.”

The SC directed Iloilo City’s current power utility Panay Electric Company (Peco) and its representatives to “cease and desist from implementing” the Mandaluyong RTC decision that voided Sections 10 and 17 of Republic Act (RA) Number 11212.

This would potentially allow More Power to seek to restart the expropriation proceedings on Peco’s facilities.

It may be recalled that Iloilo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 35 Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo Amular in November suspended the expropriation proceedings because of a lack of a TRO from the SC.

He held that the constitutionality of More Power’s eminent domain rights under its franchise was a “prejudicial question” that affects its right to take over Peco’s facilities.

In a statement, More Power president Roel Castro expressed confidence that “the lower court will take its cue and decisively rule on the Application for the Issuance of the Writ of Possession.”

Castro said the issuance of the TRO meant More Power was entitled to take over Peco’s facilities as “a matter of right.”

He added that the SC effectively agreed that Peco met the requirements for a TRO: a clear and unmistakable right to be protected, a material and substantial invasion of the said right, an urgent need to prevent irreparable injury, and the lack of other speedy and adequate remedy.

Castro said the TRO was “but a manifestation of the rule of law,” stressing that the presumption of constitutionality should be accorded to its franchise charter RA 11212.

The Mandaluyong RTC had ruled that the franchise charter was “void and unconstitutional for infringing on Peco’s rights to due process and equal protection of the law.” The SC 2nd Division, which was initially assigned the case, denied More Power’s plea for a TRO; but, it elevated the controversy to the en banc.

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