CA justice accused of bias in ports case
MANILA, Philippines–Amid allegations of corruption in the judiciary, another justice of the Court of Appeals has been accused of bias in his handling of a case involving a father and son in a tug-of-war over operations at the Manila Harbor Center.
One Source Port Services Inc., through its counsel Ryann Macapagal, accused Justice Danton Bueser of issuing resolutions favoring businessman Reghis Romero II, who is claiming ownership of Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. Bueser was the ponente or writer of the resolutions.
In a 26-page motion dated March 30, One Source sought the inhibition of Bueser from the case for allegedly violating due process and mandatory requirements in amending pleadings.
“It should be emphasized that in all these resolutions, and despite the many changes in the composition of the justices issuing said resolutions, Justice Bueser remained a constant signatory,” One Source said in its motion.
Bueser is currently a member of the Court of Appeals 16th Division. The complaint against him pertained to his actions when he was with the court’s Special Second Division.
Both the factions of Reghis and his son, Michael “Mikee” Romero, are contesting ownership of HCPTI. Reghis recently ousted One Source, said to be owned by Mikee Romero, as harbor manager, leading One Source to seek judicial intervention first in the Pasig City Regional Trial Court and later in the Court of Appeals.
One Source questioned four resolutions issued by Bueser. The first, dated Dec. 12, 2014, directed Reghis to amend his petition impleading HCPTI as co-petitioner. Reghis’ group did so six days later.
On Jan. 5, the court issued a temporary restraining order stopping the Pasig RTC from enforcing its own TRO dated Dec. 1, 2014, that ousted Reghis’ group from the Manila Harbor Center.
A third resolution was issued on March 11 ordering the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction on the RTC’s TRO. The writ itself was issued eight days later in a fourth resolution.
One Source said its grounds for suspicion of bias and loss of trust and confidence stemmed from the March 11 resolution which expanded the scope of the Reghis camp’s petition to include other matters without giving One Source the “slightest opportunity” to be heard.
On Dec. 18, One Source also asked for 15 days to comment on the amended petition but Bueser went ahead and issued the TRO on Jan. 6.
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