Another justice inhibits self from Harbor case
Justice Ramon Garcia of the Court of Appeals Special 15th Division has inhibited himself from deliberations in a dispute over the management and operation of the 10-hectare Manila Harbor Center (MHC).
Garcia was responding to a motion for inhibition filed by the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc., headed by businessman Reghis Romero II, who is contesting a trial court decision that banned him from interfering in the harbor center dispute.
Romero, through his lawyers, argued that Garcia should inhibit himself from deliberations because he was a fraternity brother of his opponent, lawyer Cyrus Paul Valenzuela, president of One Source Port Support Service Inc.
Both Garcia and Valenzuela are members of the Aquila Legis fraternity.
In a four-page resolution dated Aug. 13, Garcia said that while being a fraternity brother of one of the parties was not sufficient ground to inhibit oneself from a case, he decided to do so in order to preserve the parties’ faith in the proceedings.
Garcia is the second appellate justice to inhibit from the MHC case. A motion to ask a third justice to inhibit is pending.
In December 2014, One Source obtained from the Pasig City Regional Trial Court a ruling that stopped HCPTI from exercising management and control over MHC, which had been run by One Source.
Romero went to the Court of Appeals, whose Second Division issued a temporary restraining order on the RTC ruling.
The Second Division, however, let go of the case last April after One Source sought the inhibition of one of its members, Justice Danton Bueser.
The case was re-raffled to the 15th Division, which became the Special 15th Division after its chair, Justice Ma. Elisa Sempio-Diy, inhibited herself and was replaced by Justice Noel Tijam.
One Source has since sought Tijam’s inhibition, citing a previous case wherein the justice was called down by the Supreme Court for errors in a case that favored Romero. Valenzuela claimed Tijam had close ties with the elder Romero.
HCPTI last week described as a “desperate attempt” the various motions for inhibition filed before various courts by its opponents, including One Source and the group of Romero’s son, Michael Romero, which is also disputing control over MHC.
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