A Quezon City Regional Trial Court judge inhibited himself from hearing the legal battle between ABS-CBN and its former talent, Willie Revillame.
"In the interest of fair play and in order to avoid suspicion from the parties, this presiding judge resolves to voluntarily inhibit himself from hearing this case," Judge Luisito Cortez said in his order.
The order was dated December 13, the same day that the Kapamilya network revealed in its petition the “undisclosed relationship” between the spouse of Cortez, lawyer Angelita Ortega Cortez, and TV5 president Ray Espinosa.
Angelita and Espinosa, whose network airs Revillame’s new program, worked in the same law firm in the past.
ABS-CBN feared that this “hidden fact” might affect the outcome of the case where Revillame is seeking to be allowed to work in another station despite his existing contract obligations with his former home network.
Aside from this, the Kapamilya network noted the “numerous conflicting orders and resolutions” handed down by Cortez.
It also charged the judge with bias and partiality for approving the P426-million bond posted by Revillame that purportedly contained the actor’s “forged signature.
Cortez, however, said these fears were baseless.
"While the defendant's perception is mistaken and unfounded... the court cannot close its eyes to the fact that they have lost their faith that this presiding judge can fairly and impartially decide the case," he said.
Cortez previously declined to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the airing of Revillame’s “Willing Willie” despite the TV host’s existing contract with ABS-CBN.
With Cortez’s inhibition, the case is set to be raffled off again. -Report from Lynda Jumilla