• Romero case hearing resumes next week

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    The ownership dispute between businessman Reghis Romero II and his son Michael regarding a port terminal facility in Manila has been re-raffled off to another court after the original judge inhibited himself from handling the case.

    The case has been assigned to the sala of Judge Reynaldo Daway of the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) Branch 90.

    In a one-page order dated June 1, Daway said “the case was re-raffled and the records were received by this court on May 28.”

    The judge also set the first hearing on June 8 at 8:30 a.m.

    “On said date and time, the parties/counsels are directed to inform this court of developments or arrangements that may have arisen among them in the interregnum, if any, which may aid in the speedy disposition or resolution of the controversy, and of pending incidents on the said hearing/status hearing,” Daway said in his order.

    Earlier, hearings on the controversial ownership case of Harbour Center Port Terminal, Inc. (HCPTI) were postponed after Judge Bernelito Fernandez of QC RTC Branch 97 inhibited himself from the case last week.

    The younger Romero sought the inhibition of Fernandez for allegedly being biased in favor of his father.

    In a motion for inhibition filed last May 18, Michael alleged that Fernandez “blindly ignored the compelling pieces of evidence which undeniably show that (Reghis) do not have a clear and unmistakable right” on the HCPTI.

    He said the judge failed to acknowledge the validity of the 2011 deed of assignment, which showed that Reghis sold to Michael the majority ownership of HCPTI and other documents which showed that even Reghis and his firms had acknowledged the validity of the questioned deed of assignment.

    “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 noted.

    Last May 5, Fernandez issued a temporary restraining order prohibiting the Harbour Centre Port Holdings, Inc. (HCPHI), headed by Michael, from exercising ownership or rights, directly or indirectly, over the said port terminal facility.

    The elder Romero is 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.

    In his complaint, Reghis said Michael and his accomplices, used 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.”

    Meanwhile, Fernandez, in inhibiting himself from the case, said the younger Romero’s “accusations of bias, impartiality and prejudgment, among others” were by-products of Michael’s broad imagination.

    However, the judge said he decided to grant the motion for inhibition filed by the younger Romero “in order to erase any such doubt and with the utmost intention to uphold the integrity of the judiciary as an institution worthy of public trust and confidence.”

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