By Joseph B.A. Marzan
MORE Electric and Power Corporation (MORE Power) clarified Thursday that it was surprised by the arrest warrant issued against Iloilo City Councilor Carlos Javellana and his wife, Barangay Loboc, La Paz captain Katrina Javellana despite the withdrawal of the electricity pilferage case against the couple.
Major Jose Val Ladublan, La Paz Police Station chief, confirmed to Bombo Radyo Iloilo that the Regional Trial Court issued the arrest warrant against the Javellanas on Monday, Sept. 27, 2021.
The warrant was served to the couple at around 9:15 a.m. of Sept. 28. They were later taken to the police station, where they posted bail of P72,000 each.
A document obtained by Daily Guardian indicated that the charges against the couple were for alleged violations of Sections 2(a) and 2(e) of Republic Act No. 7832 (Anti-Electricity and Electric Transmission Lines/Materials Pilferage Act of 1994).
Sec. 2(a) defines one of the acts of illegal use of electricity to “tap, make or cause to be made any connection with overhead lines, service drops, or other electric service wires, without previous authority or consent of the private electric utility or rural electric cooperative concerned”.
Sec. 2(e), meanwhile, also criminalizes acts to “knowingly use or receive the direct benefit of electric service obtained through any of the acts mentioned in [the other] subsections”.
Councilor Javellana was also interviewed by Bombo Radyo but declined to answer questions and instead referred to MORE Power.
MORE Power’s legal counsel, Allana Babayen-on, told Bombo that the Javellanas already settled their account with the distribution utility after paying P179,000 in March 2021, a month after the case was filed with the Iloilo City Prosecutor’s Office.
The amount was based on the presumed unpaid amount of consumed electricity without the use of a meter.
Because of the settlement, MORE Power filed a motion to withdraw, which was filed and received by the City Prosecutor’s Office on July 28.
But as Babayen-on explained, the prosecutor found probable cause to charge the couple and already elevated the case to the court.
“Although we have manifested that we would withdraw [the criminal charges], I think the prosecutor’s resolution came first. This means that at their level, they have determined that there was probable cause, so they resolved to file the information in court. Our motion to withdraw may have come late, and the case had already reached the court. The court issued a warrant, and we reiterated to the court that we had settled the civil liability with the accused, and that we are requesting for the withdrawal of the information,” Babayen-on explained.
She clarified further that while they wished to withdraw their charges against the Javellanas, it was entirely the prosecutor’s decision to elevate the case.
“We do not control the prosecutor’s office. They also have a mandate and a right on how they can resolve cases based on the evidence submitted by the complainant, and also the affidavits of the respondents. We have also stated that we will file the necessary motions but we cannot assure that in the prosecutor level, the case would be dismissed,” she said.
Apart from the Javellanas, MORE Power has withdrawn several cases against some accused after settling their obligations with distribution utility.