Article violates gag order
We write in behalf of our clients, Reghis M. Romero II, R-II Builders, 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.
Specifically, the following statements, aside from being blatantly false and misleading to the public, are derogatory of the dignity of the administration of justice and the members thereof, at the expense of Honorable Judge Bernelito R. Fernandez and the pending case, to wit:
- “A GROUP credited for exposing the ‘justice for sale’ scheme in the judiciary on Sunday revealed that the wife of a Quezon City judge handling the controversial ownership case involving the Harbour Center Port Terminal Inc. was a classmate of the lawyers of businessman Reghis Romero”;
- “’Yung lawyer kasi ni Reghis Romero ay kaklase ng asawa ni judge kaya nu’ng tiningnan naming ‘yung basehan ng desisyon ay napakalayo. Hindi po talaga sa merito. So we call on the judge na kung may conflict of interest ay automatic mag-inhibit na.’ pahayag ni Perfecto Tagalog, secretary general of Coalition of Filipino Consumers in a radio interview”;
- “This is basically a conflict of interest for Judge Fernandez as his wife is a classmate of Reghis Romero’s lawyers,’ Romero’s lawyers said”; and “Wala po tayong pakialam sa problema ng pamilya. Ang pakialam natin ay ang suhulan na nangyayari sa hudikatura,’ he pointed out”
Moreover, the statements with regard to the perceived bias on the part of the Honorable Judge Fernandez in view of the fact that his wife is a classmate of the counsel; for the plaintiffs, more than being misleading, are irresponsible statements and a blatant degradation of the dignity of the administration of justice.
First of all, Atty. Cesar L. Villanueva is not a counsel for the plaintiffs for he is no longer part of the law firm since he joined the government in the Year 2011. Second and more importantly, the esteem and dignity of the administration of justice is above and beyond the mere fact that one of the counsels for the plaintiff is a classmate of the wife of the Honorable Judge Fernandez--for if it were otherwise, then the inhibition of judges should become commonplace because such a situation happens too often in the practice of law.
In view of the foregoing, it bears stressing that 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.
Accordingly, in Honorable Judge Fernandez’s Order dated 22 May 2015, a copy of which is attached herewith for your reference, 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)
Clearly, your published article, which contained matters beyond the factual circumstances of the case, as well as statements from Michael Romero’s lawyers, is violative of said Gag Order.
Indeed, inasmuch as your published article is utterly irresponsible and tends to degrade the administration of justice at the expense of the Honorable Judge Hernandez, as well the pending case, the same is a blatant breach of your utmost responsibility of fair and true reporting without comment.
We therefore demand from you to correct such false and misleading statements, without prejudice to whatever appropriate legal action we may take against you.
Santiago T. Gabionza, Jr., Alexander C. Dy, Czarina G. Quintanilla, Leika P. San Juan, Gabriel Paolo L. de Guzman