SC upholds ruling favoring Michael Romero in port dispute
The Supreme Court ruled in favor of businessman and party-list lawmaker Michael Romero over the control and operation of the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) in Tondo, Manila.
In a resolution, the high court dismissed the petition for certiorari filed by the lawmaker’s father, Reghis Romero II, and HCPTI.
The high court also denied their application for a temporary restraining order.
In the same ruling, the high court’s first division said the bid for a TRO is already moot and academic because of the May 2016 ruling by the Court of Appeals.
The younger Romero won the case in the CA after its Special Fifteenth Division ruled on May 12, 2016 that One Source Port Services is the rightful operator of the Harbour Centre Port based on a valid and legal Port Ancillary Services Contract and Port Services Management Contract that it signed on January 22, 2007 and June 5, 2014, respectively, with HCPTI but were unilaterally voided without valid basis by Reghis Romero.
The high court also affirmed the Oct. 26, 2015 ruling by the CA regarding the inhibition of Associate Justice Rodil Zalameda.
Reghis Romero II and HCPTI filed a motion before the CA last November to request Zalameda to reconsider his decision to recuse himself from the case.
But the high court affirmed Zalameda’s inhibition.
In October 2014, the elder Romero, assisted by armed men, forcibly ousted One Source and took over the port terminal’s operations.
One Source filed for a temporary restraining order (TRO) in November 2014 before Branch 167 of the Regional Trial Court in Pasig City, which issued a 20-day TRO in favor of One Source on Dec. 1, 2014 and barred Romero from interfering in the port terminal’s operations.
CA Justice Leoncia Real-Dimagiba, the ponente of the May 12 CA decision, upheld the findings of Judge Rolando Mislang of RTC Pasig.
“The respondent Judge based on the pleadings, arguments and evidence so far presented, granted One Source’s application for TRO. He was not convinced that Reghis Romero II, R-II Builders and R-II Holdings were the owners of the majority shares of HCPTI, hence, he did not sustain the unilateral cancellation of the Port Ancillary Service Contract and Port Services Management Contract executed between One Source and HCPTI and the eviction of one Source from the facility,” said the CA.
“Thus, we agree with the preliminary findings of the public respondent that by virtue of the Two Contracts, the operations and management of the terminal facility must be restored to One Source,” the CA ruled.
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