Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s mentor and former law partner is one of the lawyers for the Manila Electric Co. (Meralco), who will defend the rate hike the electricity distributor charged its customers before the Supreme Court.
The Manila Times learned that retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Florentino Feliciano attended the preliminary conference set by the Court on Monday.
Sereno served as Feliciano’s documentation lawyer and legal researcher in the Piatco case.
He also Sereno when she was applied as associate justice in the high court.
Feliciano’s appointment of Sereno to the PIATCO case became vital in her appointment as a magistrate since Feliciano cited her role to President Benigno Aquino 3rd.
In the PIATCO case, both Sereno and Feliciano, including foreign lawyers, local lawyers and consultants, were part of the legal team who got a whopping total of P2.6 Billion worth of attorneys fees and billings in connection with the Piatco suit before Washington and Singapore arbitrations.
The Court will hear oral arguments on January 21 on the petitions challenging the P4.15 per kilowatt-hour rate increase imposed by Meralco.
Besides Feliciano, Meralco will be represented by Vicente Lazatin from the ACCRA law office, who attended the preliminary conference.
Representing the other respondent, the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC), at the preliminary conference was lawyer Francis Saturnino Kuan.
Petitioners and respondents will have 30 minutes each to argue their case.
The opposing camps have until January 20 to name their representatives to argue in their case.
Representing petitioner Bayan Muna at the preliminary conference were the party-list’s congressmen, Neri Colmenares and Carlos Isagani Zarate.
Also attending for the petitioners is lawyer Leonard de Vera.
Bayan Muna has complied with the Supreme Court order to amend its petition to include power producers.
In a 39-page amended petition, Bayan Muna alleged that the record-high Meralco rate increase was a result of a very high generation charge “resulting from acts of collusion” by the power producers.
Another petitioner, National Association of Electricity Consumers for Reforms (Nasecore), filed a similar amended petition.
Added as respondents in the case were the Philippine Electricity Market Corp. (PEMC), operator of electricity trading flood Wholesale Electricity Spot Market (WESM); and power suppliers SEM-Calaca Power Corp., Masinloc Power Partners Corp., Therma Luzon Inc., San Miguel Energy Corp., South Premier Power Corp. and Therma Mobile Inc.
Several members of the House of Representatives disagree on how the ERC will go in the Meralco rate increase issue.
“I doubt if the current ERC commissioners will do that (reverse decision) because without any saving face decision from the Supreme Court. Reversing it on their own would mean an admission that they committed an error right from the very beginning,” House Majority Leader Sherwin Tugna of Citizens Battle Against Corruption party-list said in a text message.
“For ERC to reverse it, I believe that they would wait for a permanent injunction from the Supreme Court. That way, they can save their face even if they reverse their previous decision imposing a power rate increase,” Tugna said.
Rep. Rodito Albano of Isabela believes establishing collusion between power suppliers should compel ERC to revoke its decision favoring Meralco.
“If proven that there is collusion among power producers, then the ERC is mandated to stop the increase,” Albano said.
House Deputy Minority Leader Neri Colmenares is wary about the delayed report of the ERC concerning the power suppliers.
The ERC said it will release its findings on December 30.
With Reports From Llanesca T. Panti