WE write in behalf of our clients, Reghis M. Romero II, R-II Builder’s, Inc. and R-II Holdings, Inc., the plaintiffs in Civil Case No. R-QZN-15-03754-CV, entitled “R-II Builders, Inc. R-II Holdings, Inc. and Reghis M. Romero II v. Michael L. Romero and Harbour Centre Port Holdings, Inc.”, pending before Branch 97 of the Regional Trial Court of Quezon City, relative to the above-captioned article
Such published article is false and misleading to the public. As will be demonstrated hereunder, it is replete with unfair and inaccurate information which are immediately belied by the Transcript of Stenographic Notes dated 19 May 2015, a copy of which is hereto attached for your reference.
First. The statements that “x x x Branch97 Judge Bernelito Fernandez ‘does not want our lawyers to cross-examine the witnesses of Reghis group”’, and “’He [Fernandez] wants to railroad the injunction process by just asking everyone to submit the memorandum,’ he added”, cannot be further from the truth, as what transpired during that 19 May 2015 hearing before Judge Bernelito R. Fernandez, to wit –
Yes your Honor, with all due respect. In the event that the inhibition order is not or the Court opts not to grant our Motion for Inhibition, your Honor, we are amenable to a hearing where we will be allowed to cross-examine the witnesses, your Honor, on the 25th.
XXX XXX XXX
Your Honor, we anticipate that if there are three (3) witnesses, we will endeavor to complete our cross-examination by the 25th as but in the event that it’s not completed, firstly your Honor, may we be allowed the entire day within which to proceed?
Yes, the Court will probably grant you that.
XXX XXX X XX
We’ll be available on the 25th and 26th the whole day, your
Honor. However, we are not available on the 27th.
XXX XX X X XX
O R D E R – –
X XX XXX XXX
Both parties are thus directed to present their respective witnesses on May 25 and 26, both at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon.”
XXX XXX XXX
x x x The Court will, after hearing, witnesses for both parties, this Court will grants a period of up to the end of office hours of the 28th to file summary memoranda for both parties.” (Pages 19, 21, 22, and 31, Transcript of Stenographic Notes dated 19 May 2015; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A reading of the foregoing clearly demonstrates that Michael Romero’s lawyers– contrary to the contents of your published article–were given an opportunity by Judge Fernandez to cross-examine the witnesses for Reghis M. Romero II , even acceding to their requested dates.
Moreover, Judge Fernandez did not “railroad the injunction process”, considering that, pursuant to his afore-quoted Order, there will be injunction hearings on the 25th and 26th of July 2015 where both parties will have the opportunity to cross-examine their respective witnesses, only after which they shall be required to submit their respective memoranda.
Based on the foregoing, it follows that the statement that “Reghis allegedly refused to let Michael’s lawyers cross-examine the witnesses of Reghis’ group and is accused of railroading the injunction process by asking everyone to just submit memorandums”, is blatantly false and misleading as well.
Second. The statement in relation to the Motion for Inhibition filed by Michael Romero’s lawyers that ‘”Up to now, the judge has refused to do so,’ one of the lawyers said”, is likewise misleading and inaccurate.
The Motion for Inhibition filed by Michael Romero’s lawyers is not a matter for the simple “refusal” by the Honorable Judge Fernandez, inasmuch as the same is based on voluntary–and not mandatory–grounds for inhibition.
Moreover, during the 19 May 2015 hearing, Michael Romero’s lawyers manifested their intention to file an additional pleading in relation to their Motion for Inhibition, to wit –
x x x We had also requested a period of up to the 21st within which to file the appropriate pleading with respect to our Motion for Inhibition,
Okay. x x x” (Page 32, Transcript of Stenographic Notes dated 19
and thus Judge Fernandez gave them until 21 July 2015 to file the same, and concomitantly gave our clients until the 22nd of July to file their comments and/or objections thereto.
Accordingly, Judge Fernandez can only resolve the Motion for Inhibition after the parties have duly filed their respective pleadings,
Third. In an Urgent Motion for Gag Order, our clients prayed for the issuance of a Gag Order against defendants Michael L. Romero and Harbour Centre Port Holdings, Inc., their counsels, those not privy to the case, as well as the media, from further causing and/or permitting the publication of news articles and reports which discuss and/or pertain to, the defendants’ alleged ownership of the shares in Harbour Centre Port Terminal, Inc. (“Harbour Terminal”), as against herein plaintiffs, which necessarily includes the proceedings in the instant case.
Indeed, if your article truly intended to reflect a fair and true report, it should not have conveniently overlooked the fact that during the same 19 May 2015 hearing, Michael Romero’s lawyers have agreed to a mutual Gag Order in relation to our clients’ Urgent Motion for Gag Order, to wit –
On the matter of the Gag Order, Motion for Gag Order, your Honor x x x I have been consulting with the lawyer of the corporation and to abbreviate that particular issue, we are actually willing to agree to that Gag Order provided, your Honor, that it is reciprocal in nature that both, everybody, both parties, both groups are enjoined from issuing any press statement or news report. So the Gag Order should apply to everybody. So should that be, if that is acceptable to the other, to the plaintiffs, then we will not further oppose that. However, if that is not acceptable, then of course, we would like to be given an opportunity within which to file our opposition to that motion.
XXX XXX XXX
x x x Finally you Honor, with respect to our manifestation on the Gag Order. Firstly, we would like to request that 1) the Gag Order, I think, we need to clarify this. Atty. Golez wants to clarify this. That the Gag Order should be, what is the property term global. It should refer not just to this case but to any and all other cases. So let us agree on a Gag Order that will apply to everything, not just to this particular case but all the other cases because it is admitted that the parties, that this case is one of only several. So one that it be, if that’s acceptable to the other party that the Gag Order will apply to everything, all the cases in which parties are involved, then, we reiterate that we are amenable to that. However, your Honor, I think there will be, while we would be, we would want that the Gag Order be applied to everybody, I supposed realistically we can only limit our commitment to the defendants and their employees, their agents, and so forth or representatives. I do not think that we can make that commitment with respect to members of the media. So we can make that over whom we can exercise a certain degree of control and persuasion.
Okay, Atty. Golez?
Yes, your Honor. Well, Atty. Maranan raised that point already about the global Gag Order. We adopt the same your Honor. x x x
x x x the Court is more inclined to grant a Gag Order only to this case, okay? x x x Secondly, the Court is likewise not inclined to cover everybody including the media without necessarily probably crossing over any constitutional right, the freedom of the press.” (Pages 11 to 12, Transcript of Stenographic Notes dated 19 May 2015; emphasis and underscoring supplied)
Based on the foregoing, it is clear that the lawyers of Michael Romero have agreed that there shall be a mutual Gag Order, not only with respect to the case before Judge Fernandez, but also to other cases involving the same parties.
More importantly, in Judge Fernandez’s Order dated 22 May 2015, he issued a Gag Order restricting the parties to the case, their lawyers and witnesses, and the public in general, including the media, from making comments and disclosures pertaining to the case, ruling in this wise, viz –
“WHEREFORE, premises considered, a Gag Order is hereby issued restricting comments and disclosures pertaining to the instant case. In particular, the participants in the instant case, i.e., the members of the bar and bench, the litigants and witnesses, and the public in general, including the media, are hereby directed to restrict from making comments and disclosures regarding the pending case especially on the alleged ownership of the shares in Harbour Terminal based on the subject Deeds of Assignment.” (Emphasis and underscoring supplied)
A copy of said Order is likewise attached herewith for your reference.
Clearly, your published report, which contained matters beyond the factual circumstances of the case, as well as quoted statements via text by Michael Romero, and statements from his lawyers, is utterly irresponsible and tends to degrade the administration of justice at the expense of Judge Hernandez, as well the pending case.
We therefore demand from you to correct such false and misleading statements, without prejudice to whatever appropriate legal action we may take against you.
Very truly yours,
SANTIAGO T. GABIONZA, JR.
ALEXANDER C. DY
CZARINA G. QUINTANILLA
LEIKA P. SAN JUAN
GABRIEL PAOLO L. DE
[This letter is dated May 22, 2015]