Court recognizes Michael Romero group as owner of Harbor Center Port Terminal Inc.
A MANILA regional trial court has ruled that businessman Michael Romero and his group, not the faction headed by his father Reghis Romero II, owned Harbor Center Port Terminal Inc., the company that operates the 10-hectare Manila Harbor Center.
In a decision dated May 6 and provided by the younger Romero’s lawyer Ray Jean Tamayo, the Manila RTC Branch 25 Judge Silvino Pampilo gave credence to the notarized deeds of assignments submitted by Michael’s faction to show their majority control of the HCPTI.
However, Pampilo’s ruling contradicted the one rendered by Quezon City RTC Judge Bernelito Fernandez last May 5, which issued a temporary restraining order stopping Michael’s group from using the deeds to claim ownership of HCPTI.
Pampilo, in his ruling, said the deeds carried “evidentiary weight” and were presumed to be regular since these were duly notarized. The judge also said the elder Romero’s faction did not bother to refute the validity of the deeds, which would remain effective until nullified.
The court has, therefore, acknowledged that 68.11 percent of HCPTI shares was owned by Harbor Center Port Holdings Inc. represented by Michael, through the two March 2, 2011 notarized deeds of assignment that were allegedly executed in its favor by R-II Builders, Inc. and R-II Holdings, Inc., which are controlled by Reghis’ group.
The judge has also said Michael’s faction also submitted documents that constituted “compelling evidence before the eyes of the court” that they are the current officers of HCPTI, such as certifications by the corporate secretary, tax payment receipts, and the general information sheet submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission.
The Manila RTC ruling stemmed from a replevin suit filed last March by the group of the elder Romero, through assistant manager Alethea Arellano, to recover about 15 motor vehicles issued to Michael and nine other respondents identified with his group when they were still employed with the HCPTI.
Pampilo ruled that since Arellano did not have the authority to represent HCPTI, the case should be dismissed due to lack of jurisdiction and not considered filed.
The RTC rejected the claim of Reghis’ faction that the writ of preliminary injunction issued by the Court of Appeals last March 19 has prohibited Michael’s group from taking over HCPTI. The judge said the appeals court order pertained to Michael’s acts as agent or representative of One Source Port Support Services Group, which was evicted by Reghis’ faction from the Manila Harbor Center.
“Simply put, Michael Romero is enjoined only if he acts as an agent and/or representative of the private respondent in the Court of Appeals case which is One Source Port Services Inc. but not when he acts as a director or officer of HCPTI, as a stockholder thereof, or in behalf of the company per se because this was not covered by the writ,” the judge explained.
“Hence, there is no impediment for him (Michael) to act in behalf of HCPTI, exercise rights that pertain to him as a director/officer of the company and assert authority in behalf of HCPTI, for as long as he does not do so, for and on behalf, or in representation, of One Source Port Services Inc.,” he added.
One Source earlier filed a separate suit before the Pasig City regional trial court, which ordered Reghis’ faction ousted from the Manila Harbor Center. The elder Romero, however, elevated the case before the Court of Appeals, which issued the writ of preliminary injunction in his favor.
The elder Romero has been insisting that his two companies R-II Builders, Inc. and R-II Holdings, Inc. remain the majority stockholders of HCPTI, contrary to his son’s claim. Reghis accused his son and his accomplices of using fabricated deeds of assignment and “made it appear that R-II Builders, Inc. and R-II Holdings, Inc. have relinquished their majority shareholdings and resultant control of HCPTI.”
Reghis’ group filed the case before the QCRTC to stop his son’s faction from “continuously misrepresenting” themselves to third persons as having the requisite capacity to act for and on behalf of the HCPTI. SFM
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.