Expropriation hearing continues on July 2 as Iloilo court denies PECO’s motion to suspend proceedings

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THE REGIONAL Trial Court Branch 37 in Iloilo City has set on July 2 the continuation of the hearings on the application for writ of possession of MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power), after it denied Panay Electric Co.’s (PECO) plea to stop the proceedings. The order was issued by Pairing Judge Victor E. Gelvezon on June 13. One of the grounds cited by PECO in seeking a suspension of the expropriation case is its petition before the Supreme Court seeking the transfer of the case to a Metro Manila court. PECO said the case has become controversial and local media commentaries could affect the judge’s decision. On the other hand, MORE Power’s lawyer, Hector P. Teodosio, said they will oppose PECO’s plea to transfer the proceedings. “We will file an opposition (to) their motion to transfer the venue on the ground that the expropriation case should be here because the properties are here in Iloilo,” he said in an interview. On the application for a writ of possession, the court gave MORE Power 10 days to submit the necessary documents and determine the updated total assessed value of PECO’s distribution assets. MORE Power has been granted the franchise to distribute electricity in Iloilo City through Republic Act No. 11212. PECO’s congressional franchise expired on Jan. 19 while its Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN) expired on May 25. PECO, however, continues to distribute power on the basis of a provisional CPCN issued by the Energy Regulatory Commission. — Emme Rose S. Santiagudo