MORE Power says Peco defied court gag order with presscon

By Lenie Lectura – March 4, 2020
from Business Mirror

MORE Electric and Power Corp. (MORE Power) on Tuesday said Panay Electric Co. (Peco) has defied a gag order after the latter held a news conference.

It said Peco, led by its counsel, held a press briefing in Manila on March 3. This occurred a day after Iloilo Regional Trial Court Branch 23 Judge Emerald Requina-Contreras said in a two-page order that both parties must strictly observe the gag order issued earlier by Judge Daniel Gerardo Amuler of Branch 35.

The gag order applies to MORE Power and Peco officials and lawyers.

Contreras also cited Peco lawyer Estrella Elamparo for giving “malicious statements on air of an alleged meeting with the judge of a certain MORE personality,” a day before  the writ of possession (WOP) was served.

Contreras granted the writ of possession to MORE Power under the expropriation case filed against Peco on March 11, 2019. The WOP, which was served by the Iloilo City Sheriff’s Office last week, effectively allows MORE Power to take control of Peco’s assets.

Contreras said Elamparo’s behavior “will be dealt with by the court accordingly.”

Also, the same judge said she would not allow “this misbehavior of counsels whenever the [court] judgment is adverse to their client” to influence her decisions regarding the case, and stressed she would “not be dissuaded to further hear the case with utmost impartiality.”

In the same order, both parties were directed by the court to submit their proposed timeline on the transition period and turnover of records and documents following the issuance of  the WOP.

“The parties are given three days from today to submit their respective timeline and to set things straight to appear before the court on March 6, 2020, at 8:30 a.m.,” Contreras said.

MORE Power, owned by ports and gaming magnate Enrique Razon Jr., assured the city’s residential and business customers that it would ensure continuous power supply in the city and is deploying reaction teams 24/7 to address complaints from consumers.

“In order to ensure continuity of services to the consumers of Iloilo City, MORE Power troubleshooters and line teams are mobilized to provide assistance as may be needed,” MORE Power said. MORE Power secured a 15-year franchise from Congress in 2019 while Peco’s franchise expired on January 19, 2019.

Under Republic Act 11212 signed on February 14, 2019, by President Duterte, MORE Power was authorized to take over all distribution assets and other properties whether private or government-owned so it can distribute electricity in Iloilo City.