Motion to dismiss case vs Energy department, others opposed-A A +A
Saturday, May 19, 2012
KIDAPAWAN CITY -- Lawyers of Kidapawan City Vice Mayor Joseph Evangelista opposed the motion to dismiss filed by the counsels of the respondents, National Power Corporation (NPC) and other power agencies, on Friday.
Lawyer Gary Vergara, one of Evangelista’s counsels, cited as basis for his opposition the guidelines issued in March 2002 by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) that prohibits parties to file motion to dismiss on cases involving mandamus.
On April 28, Evangelista, as a taxpayer and an electric consumer, sued Energy officials for turning a deaf ear to the city’s demand to be given its share of electricity from the geothermal power plants it hosts.
He demands that the city, as host to two geothermal power plants at Mount Apo, be given priority load dispatch of 25 percent during times of energy crisis.
Last April, the Cotabato Electric Cooperative (Cotelco), the service provider for Kidapawan City and in the whole province of North Cotabato, was given only a load to maintain of about 20 megawatts.
It was reduced to 15.4 megawatts when the Pulangi-4 hydro-electric power plant in Bukidnon province underwent preventive maintenance.
He filed a “Mandamus with Prayer for the Issuance of a Writ of Preliminary Injunction and Damages” with the Regional Trial Court (RTC) branch 17 against Energy Secretary Jose Almendras; Froilan Tampinco, president of the Napocor, and its Board of Directors; Emmanuel Ledesma Jr., president of the Power Sector Assets Liabilities and Management, and its Board of Directors; and Richard Tantoco, president and Chief Executive Officer of the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and its Board of Directors.
The power firm officials were represented by their counsels during the preliminary conference that started around 130 p.m., Friday.
While some of the counsels for the respondents have sought court’s approval for the deferment of the proceeding, the complainant, with his lawyers, wanted to expedite the resolution of the case.
Counsels for the Napocor questioned the court’s jurisdiction over the case.
The plaintiff, however, maintained his position that only courts, including the RTC, Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court, have power over the matter.
Also, counsels for Napocor argued that when power plants in Mindanao were sold to private firms, the agency is no longer a signatory to contracts signed between power utilities, Cotelco in particular, and the PSALM.
The Napocor said that under the Energy Power Industry Reform Act (Epira), its mandate is limited only to the operation of the remaining unsold generating assets of the government; engage in missionary electrification in off-grid and unviable areas; and watershed management.
Due to the urgency of the matter, the second hearing is scheduled on May 31 where parties are ordered to submit memorandum of their motions and argumentations.
The court has also ordered the submission of data as to the megawatts the geothermal power plants of the EDC generated last April.
This, the court explained, would determine as to whether the 25 percent priority load dispatch from the plants was supplied to Cotelco or not.
Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on May 20, 2012.