THE arrest warrant issued against Party-list Rep. Mikee L. Romero of 1-Pacman remains in effect, lawyers of Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc. (HCPTI) insisted.
The lawyers said the Court of Appeals (CA) decision that reportedly lifted the arrest order against Romero is not yet final and executory.
In a statement, HCPTI lawyers, led by Christian Chan of the Placido and Chan Law Offices, said the “warrants of arrest against Romero and his coaccused issued by the trial court are still in effect, since, under the Rules of Court, the complainants against them have 15 days from receipt of the CA order to file a motion for reconsideration.”
“Assuming that the motion is denied, HCPTI can still elevate the same to the Supreme Court, and only after exhausting all legal remedies will the resolution of the CA become final and executory,” Chan said.
At the same time, the lawyer pointed out that “the case before the CA is not one of the actions laid down under the Rules of Court, which allows for the immediate execution of the decision, and that being the case, assuming that the news article that appeared in one newspaper is true, the warrants of arrest against Michael Romero, et al. are still valid and in effect.”
The HCPTI stressed that, “the denial of the motion to withdraw information, as well as the judicial determination of probable cause, are within the exclusive prerogative of the trial court judge.”
“The basis for the motion to withdraw the information has already been overturned by no less than the Department of Justice and, hence, the CA had no legal basis whatsoever to overturn the decision of the Regional Trial Court [RTC] of Manila in denying the motion to withdraw the information. Furthermore, the existence of prejudicial question, if any, should not result in the dismissal of the criminal case, contrary to what the Court of Appeals held,” it added.
The arrest order against Romero was issued by Judge Cicero D. Jurado Jr. of the RTC in Manila Branch 11. The order stemmed from the qualified-theft charges involving some P3.4 million that the lawmaker and two others had been accused of stealing from the HCPTI. Thus was said in a complaint filed by HCPTI through lawyer Jerome Canlas.
Qualified theft is a nonbailable offense if the stolen amount is P222,000 or more.
Romero has failed to submit himself physically to the jurisdiction of the RTC in Manila since February 6, when the court quashed his motion to suspend the execution of his warrant of arrest.
Thereafter, RTC issued an order on February 27, denying the urgent motion for reconsideration filed by Romero and Edwin Jeremillo, former COO of HCPTI. Also charged and ordered arrested was former HCPTI cashier Felicia T. Aquino.
This prompted the younger Romero to elevate the matter before the CA.