Cesar Montano asks court to cite Sunshine Cruz for contempt
MANILA, Philippines — A query posted by actress Sunshine Cruz on Facebook and the flurry of comments it generated drew the ire of her estranged husband actor Cesar Montano who asked a Quezon City court to penalize her for violating a gag order on their legal tussle over the custody of their daughters.
In his petition for the court to cite Cruz for indirect contempt filed on Valentine’s Day, Montano said that Cruz should be held culpable for going against the gag order issued in August 2013 by Quezon City Regional Trial Court Judge Jose Bautista Jr. of Branch 107, pertaining to the issuance of the writ of habeas corpus sought by his estranged wife.
The actor’s petition was raffled off to the Quezon City regional trial court branch 81.
Montano maintained that while Bautista had modified his order last month, in connection with the custody of their daughters, the directive to keep mum on the merits of the case has not been scrapped.
He cited in his five-page petition a portion of the judge’s August 15, 2013 order, which said, “To preserve the confidentiality of cases filed before the family courts… and for the protection, welfare and interest of their minor children, the petitioner and respondent including their lawyers are directed not to talk and discuss matters involving/relating to this case to the tri-media and to all other form(s) of social media under pain of contempt.”
Montano said that when the judge modified his order on January 16, “Respondent (Cruz), posted in Facebook, a well-known social networking website, a status update (in) her account relating to details of the pending case before the honorable regional trial court of Quezon City branch 107.”
He added that Cruz’s lawyer Bonifacio Alentajan was even tagged in the post, which was in the form of a question. The post, the actor maintained, disclosed information to the public relating to the issue on the custody of their children and that those who saw the post had remarked on it.
Montano said that through the post, his estranged wife had, to his prejudice, “peddled” the case merits and violated the gag order issued by Judge Bautista as well as the sub judice rule which has been barred public disclosures on the merits of a pending case.
He claimed that Alentajan’s response to Cruz’s post of “Please delete this post,” was proof of the actress’ violation of the gag order and the sub judice rule.
The actor further pointed out that Cruz’s post has spawned a “negative perception” of him in the minds of the public, his estranged wife being a well-known celebrity.
“These (extrajudicial) representations tend, directly or indirectly, to influence the decision of the controversy and consist in unlawful interference with the proceedings not only in the habeas corpus case but in all pending actions filed by respondent against petitioner (Montano),” he said.
Finally, Montano asked the court to punish Cruz for indirect contempt with a fair and just penalty that it would see fit.