Court dismisses case versus Ceneco JVA

A Bacolod Regional Trial Court judge has dismissed a civil case seeking a preliminary injunction and the nullification of the joint venture agreement (JVA) between Central Negros Electric Cooperative and Primeletric Holdings Inc./Negros Electric and Power Corp. for lack of jurisdiction.

RTC Branch 42 Judge Maria Lina Gonzaga, in an order dated September 1 and released to the media Wednesday, October 18, dismissed the case filed by Pepito Pico, Rommel Pido and Aaron Sorbito as consumers and representatives of Negros Consumers’ Watch and Convenors of Anti-CENECO JVA Coalition.

Prior to resorting to the courts, parties must first seek recourse from the administrative agency, which has the technical expertise over the issues, she said.

The courts refrain from settling a dispute when the issues call for the exercise of a well-informed administrative judgment, which involves specialized knowledge, experience, and the services of an administrative tribunal to decide technical factual matters, the judge added.

In other words, if a case is such that its determination requires the expertise, specialized training and knowledge of an administrative body, relief must first be obtained in an administrative proceeding before resorting to the courts, the judge said.

Declaratory relief in this case is premature, and clearly not ripe for judicial determination as there is still adequate relief available through other means, the judge said, citing the National Electrification Administration that has the technical competence.

The judge also said with the JVA plebiscite results already out and counted there is nothing left for the Court to restrain.*

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