Court dismisses complaint vs Negros Power, Ceneco board

Local News Official
Local News OfficialSunStar File Photo

Negros Occidental Regional Trial Court Branch 79 presiding Judge Ferdinand Elbert Jomilla dismissed the complaint filed against Prime Electric Holdings Incorporated (PEH), Negros Electric Power Corporation (NEPC), and Central Negros Electric Cooperative (Ceneco) for lack of cause of action.

This stemmed from the complaint filed by Joaquin Dagohoy Malacad on June 22 last year, requesting the court to issue an order permanently enjoining Ceneco, PEH, and NEPC from executing the joint venture agreement, aside from the call for the issuance of a temporary restraining order from conducting plebiscite and ratifying the JVA.

Malacad claimed that Cenecopresident and its directors lacked the authority to sign and approve the JVA between them and NEPC and that holding of plebiscite is illegal, claiming that it violates the voting rights of the electric cooperative members.

Jomilla earlier dismissed the request for issuance of TRO for lack of merit.

In answer to the complaint of Malacad, Ceneco said it enjoys powers and corporate existence akin to those of a corporate entity, subject to the review and supervision of the  National Electrification Administration, including authority and power that may be exercised by the president of the board of directors.

The JVA is also aimed at assisting Ceneco in addressing its financial crisis, rehabilitating its decaying assets, and modernizing its distribution systems, it added.

On the other hand, Prime Electric and NEPC said that the effectiveness of JVA shall be subject to the approval of Ceneco member-consumers and concurrence by the NEA.

Jomilla said he noted that the defendants have raised in their respective answers that the plaintiff (Malacad) did not first file, nor seek resolution of the matter with NEA, prior to initiating the present action in court, thereby violating the doctrines of administrative remedies, and primary jurisdiction.

The non-observance of the doctrine of exhaustion of administrative remedies resulted in the complaint having no cause of action, he pointed out.

Under the doctrine of primary administrative jurisdiction, if an administrative tribunal has jurisdiction over a controversy, courts should not resolve the issue, even if it may be within its proper jurisdiction.

This is especially true when the questions involve sound discretion requiring special knowledge, experience, and services to determine technical and intricate matters of fact, Jomilla further said.

It has been the jurisprudential trend to apply the doctrine of primary jurisdiction in many cases involving matters that demand the special competence of administrative agencies. It may occur that the Court has jurisdiction to take cognizance of a particular case, which means that the matter involved is also judicial in character, he added.

However, if the case is such that its determination requires the expertise, specialized skills and knowledge of the proper administrative bodies because technical matters, or intricate questions of facts are involved, then relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before a remedy can be supplied by the courts, even though the matter is within the proper jurisdiction of a court, he also said.

The present complaint is hereby dismissed for lack of cause of action, Jomilla added.

The Ceneco board of directors is composed of Jojit Yap, Ariel Guides, Eugenio Velasco, Antonino Panique, Dwight Carbon, Noel Alarcon, and Nicanor Jison, while the PEH and NEPC was represented by Roel Castro.*


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