QC judge urged to inhibit self from handling Harbour Center Port case
Businessman Michael Romero on Thursday asked a Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge to inhibit himself from handling the ownership dispute case between him and his father, Reghis Romero II regarding the Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI).
In an eight-page supplemental motion filed before the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, Romero through his lawyer E. Hans Santos, sought the inhibition of Judge Bernelito Fernandez, presiding judge of Branch 79, accusing him of being biased.
In his motion, he pointed out that Judge Fernandez conducted a hearing on April 29 and May 5 for both his motion to dismiss the case and on his father’s bid for a restraining order.
“The motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds, necessarily had to be resolved first, given that there would have been no legal basis to proceed absent the acquisition of jurisdiction by the trial court,” the motion stated.
“Since the application for a TRO had not yet been heard, the logical assumption was that there would be an order granting or denying the motion to dismiss, and if denied, the TRO application would proceed,” the motion further stated.
The motion pointed out that a restraining order was granted despite the fact that the court’s own records – notably the Officer’s Return and Amended Officer’s Return both dated 28 April 2015 “– unequivocally confirmed that summons were never served on defendant Harbour Centre Port Holdings, Inc.(HCPHI).”
Last May 5, the QC court enjoined HCPHI headed by the younger Romero from exercising ownership or rights , directly or indirectly, over the port terminal facility in Manila.
The elder Romero has been insisting that his two companies R-II Builders, Inc. and R-II Holdings, Inc. remain the majority stockholders of Harbour Centre, contrary to his son’s claim.
“Indeed, from the Judge’s demeanor and actions, defendant is absolutely convinced that the injunction proceedings shall simply be an exercise preparatory to appeal; Judge Fernandez’s ruling granting the injunction is a foregone conclusion,” the motion stated.
It further added that during the May 19 hearing, the Judge on his own, without motion from either of the parties, suggested that they submit a memoranda to raise all their arguments.
They insisted on cross-examining witnesses but the motion pointed out that the Judge suggested that the defendants just attach their own sworn affidavits/evidence to their memorandum.
“Either this was a mere lapse on Judge Fernandez’ part, which then raises the issue of judicial competence in the conduct of trial, or it reveals an over-zealous desire to rush the matter of injunction … which raises an entirely different set of worrying concerns,” the motion added. AC
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