CA justices inhibit from Manila port terminal row case
MANILA, Philippines – Three associate justices of the Court of Appeals (CA) have inhibited from a case involving the operations of the Harbour Centre Port Terminal Incorporated (HCPTI) at the Manila South Harbour.
In a resolution dated April 29, Associate Justices Danton Bueser, Samuel Gaerlan, and Pedro Corrales decided to inhibit from handling HCPTI’s case “so as not to unnecessarily drag the name of this court into a useless controversy.”
The decision of the 3-member Court of Appeals division stemmed from the motion to inhibit filed by One Source Port Support Services, which accused Bueser of bias in favor of businessman Reghis Romero II, who is at the center of the dispute on the ownership and management of the port.
Port operator One Source – through a 26-page motion signed by its president Cyrus Paul Valenzuela – filed a criminal case against Bueser before the Office of the Ombudsman for the associate justice’s alleged “unjust judgments” in the business row.
Bueser is a member of CA’s Special Second Division, which issued a temporary restraining order in January against a Pasig City Regional Trial Court decision allowing One Source Port Services to manage and operate HCPTI.
Responding to the motion to inhibit, the 3 associate justices decided not to handle the case.
“In view of the supposed erosion of private respondent’s faith in the justice system as brought to bear thus far upon this case, and mindful too of the duty to promote at every opportunity public confidence in judicial integrity and impartiality, we as members of this division, hereby opt to inhibit ourselves from further participation in these proceedings,” the 3-member CA division said in the resolution.
The resolution further stated that it was “eminently necessary that the members of the division graciously recuse from the further handling of this case” because of the “adverse media releases against the ponente (Bueser) as well as the filing of inconsequential cases in the Ombudsman, thereby unnecessarily dragging the name of this court in useless contretemps.”
One Source said that proof Bueser’s alleged bias is a December resolution from the CA’s Special Second Division, directing Romero II to amend his petition by adding HCPTI as co-petitioner even if the businessman had not filed any petition for it.
In January, the CA division, through a decision written by Bueser, halted a December 2014 order by a Pasig City RTC, which allowed One Source to manage and operate HCPTI.
One Source noted that in all the resolutions, Bueser was always a signatory to all the case decisions involving the HCPTI port terminal row.
“It should be emphasized that in all these resolutions above, and despite the many changes in the composition of the justices issuing said resolutions, Justice Bueser remained a constant signatory,” OneSource’s motion noted.
“Because of the casual violation of the private respondent’s basic right to due process as a result of the issuance of the aforesaid resolution, private respondent could not help but lose its trust and confidence that it can still obtain a fair treatment in this case, unless Associate Justice Bueser totally inhibits himself in this case,” One Source said in its motion. – Rappler.com