Iloilo City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 35 Judge Daniel Antonio Gerardo S. Amular is facing an administrative case before the Supreme Court (SC).

The case was filed earlier this month by More Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) represented by its legal counsel Atty. Hector P. Teodosio and Chief Executive Officer Roel Castro.

Specifically, Amular is sued for grave misconduct, gross ignorance of the law, and violation of the Code of Judicial Conduct.

Amular is presiding over the expropriation case filed by MORE Power against Panay Electric Company (PECO).

To recall, Amular “suspended further proceedings” in the case last month. The judge cited, among others, the pending case at the SC relative to the constitutionality of Sections 10 and 17 of MORE Power franchise law.

In its complaint, MORE Power said: “Expropriation of a regulated distribution system assets of a utility whose franchise has expired in favor of a utility with the franchise from Congress is a public interest case. The clear effort of respondent Judge to force the parties to settle the expropriation case as if it is a simple family dispute is against public policy,” More Power pointed out.

The presiding judge, according to the complainant, “is clearly forcing MORE Power to offer an amount that PECO will accept more than the asset base that PECO declares to the ERC for the same assets.”

“This in effect will force MORE Power to overpay for the distribution assets which will adversely affect the rates that it can charge the consumers in Iloilo City,” said MORE Power.

MORE Power believes that Amular violated Cannons 1 and 2 of the Code of Judicial Conduct when he held a private conference inside his chamber attended by Castro and PECO Corporate Communication Officer Mikel Afzelius but prohibiting the lawyers of both firms from attending.

The complainant claimed that Amular “threatened and scared MORE Power that he could delay the proceedings and even advised Castro not to discuss the matter to its counsel.”

MORE Power also accused Amular of scolding and reprimanding Castro in open court without giving him an opportunity to know the charge and to explain his side which is in violation of Cannon 3 Rule 3.04 of the Cannons of Judicial Ethics.

Cannon 3 states that a judge should perform official duties honestly and with impartiality and diligence.

The complainant also accused Amular of delaying the implementation of the Writ of Possession because despite the fact that the property sought to be expropriated was already admitted or not denied by PECO, he still invited the representative of the Energy Regulatory Commission under the guise that he needs the expertise of ERC. 

It said that when ERC representative arrived, equipped with documents, Amular changed course and did not pursue the implementation of the Writ of Possession but instead called for that private chamber conference allegedly to settle the case.

Amular was charged for gross ignorance of the law when he allegedly failed to apply the doctrine of judicial admission.

“All told, the actuations, utterances of the respondent Judge, and his issuance of the Order dated November 18, 2019, showed that he is undeserving to stay on as a judge. He should be removed,” said MORE Power.IMT