Court documents showed that ABS-CBN lawyers filed an urgent motion today with the Regional Trial Court in Quezon City seeking an early resolution of their previous pleas for Judge Luisito Cortez to inhibit himself from hearing the legal dispute between the network and Willie Revillame. The dispute began when the actor moved to ABC TV5 and sued ABS for judicial confirmation of rescission of his talent contract.
ABS lawyers reiterated their complaint about the “numerous conflicting orders and resolutions” handed down by Cortez and cited an “undisclosed relationship” between the spouse of Judge Cortez, lawyer Angelita Ortega Cortez, and ABC 5 President Ray Espinosa, as a possible explanation for his rulings. Ms. Cortez and Espinosa worked in the same law firm in the past and where it was alleged that they developed “close professional and personal relationship.”
“Espinosa’s relationship with the spouse of [Judge Cortez] gives rise to the question of whether such relationship was taken advantage of [in the case] given the manner [Judge Cortez] handled the case to favor plaintiff Revillame and prejudice ABS CBN,” said the lawyers of ABS in their motion.
ABS lawyers argued that this “hidden fact” that had been recently discovered gives rise to a conflict of interest situation for Judge Cortez and calls on him to inhibit himself from the case.
Judge Cortez previously declined to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) sought by ABS against the actor performing work for ABC TV5 and required Revillame to post a P426 Million bond to answer for the damages being claimed by his former station for breach of his talent contract.
ABS previously complained that after the denial of the TRO, Judge Cortez “shut down his court to defendant ABS CBN’s urgent application of injunctive relief, giving Espinosa, ABC and plaintiff Revillame a sigh of relief.”
ABS lawyers also charged Judge Cortes with bias and partiality for approving the P426 million bond posted by Revillame which contained the actor’s “forged signature.” In support of the charge, a side-by-side comparison of the actor’s signatures was presented in court showing the signature of Revillame on the bond “does not even remotely look like” his other signatures in documents previously submitted to the court.
ABS lawyers said that the submission of the bond with a forged signature is “perjury” and “falsification of commercial document.” If the forgery is proven, Revillame can face criminal charges involving penalties of up to 12 years of imprisonment. This is in addition to the other law suits the actor is already facing since he moved to a different station bringing an ABS hit show he previously hosted with him.
[The left column shows Willie Revillame’s alleged signature in the P426 million bond but it does not look like his real signature.]