THE arrest order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court against the alleged cohort of fugitive Rep. Michael Romero still holds.
This became evident after the Court of Appeals did not stop the implementation of the Manila RTC’s arrest order against Romero’s co-accused Felicia Aquino in the case of the P3.4-million qualified theft that victimized Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.
Instead, the CA ordered lawyer Jerome Canlas of HCPTI to comment on Aguino’s petition and plea for a temporary restraining order within 10 days.
Romero and Aquino aside, also ordered arrested by Manila RTC Judge Cicero Jurado Jr. was Edwin L. Jeremillo.
Aquino was the cashier and Jeremillo the chief operating officer when Romero was HCPTI chief executive. The three reportedly connived to steal the P3.4 million from the company.
Earlier, Jurado denied the motions filed by Romero and Jeremillo to suspend the enforcement and, thereafter, to lift the arrest order issued against them last January.
A check with the CA showed that neither Romero nor Jeremillo had filed a petition to challenge the arrest order.
The CA’s resolution on Aquino’s petition was issued by its sixth division and written by Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon.
In her petition, Aquino wanted the CA to lift the arrest order, stop the judge from proceeding with the case, and dismiss the case for lack of probable cause.
In the case of Romero, the neophyte party-list representative has not been attending the sessions of the House of Representatives since early this year.
Reports show that he has not complied with the arrest order by submitting himself physically to the jurisdiction of the trial court.
A prosecutor, who requested anonymity for lack of authority to speak for the Department of Justice said ‘‘Romero has become a fugitive from justice for his refusal to submit himself physically to the jurisdiction of the trial court by surrendering and allowing himself to be detained on the non-bailable charge.
A fugitive from justice ‘‘is one who flees after conviction to avoid punishment, as well as one who, after being charged, flees to avoid prosecution.’’
Qualified theft is an offense for which bail is now allowed if the stolen amount is P222,000 or more.
In a resolution that led to the filing of the criminal cases before the court, the Manila Prosecutors’ Office said Romero, Aquino and Jeremillo conspired in 2007 to issue 18 checks in one day, with each bearing the amount of P200,000 supposedly for “marketing expenses” and payable to the National Food Authority or Felicia Aquino.
‘‘This cannot be done. Doing so indicates badges of felony. No document whatsoever was submitted by the respondents showing transaction between HCPTI [Harbour Centre Port Terminal Inc.] and the NFA [National Food Authority], the resolution says.
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