MANILA – The Court of Appeals (CA) has affirmed its earlier decision in favor of actor Aga Muhlach and his manager, who both sought to nullify a lower court ruling that ordered them to pay more than PHP7 million in damages to an advertising firm allegedly due to breach of contract.

In its resolution dated Nov. 23, the CA denied the motion for reconsideration filed by Pacific Asian Advertising Specialist, Inc. (PAASI) on March 7 for its failure to raise new substantive arguments which would merit changes in the court’s previous decision in favor of Muhlach.

“PAASI’s grounds for reconsideration re-argues the same contentious issues that the parties have extensively argued and discussed in their respective briefs and which have already been considered and resolved by the court in the decision sought to be reconsidered,” the tribunal said.

The CA Third Division “extinguished” all obligations of Muhlach and talent manager Ethelwolda Ramos of the management firm AMC Entertainment with PAASI on Jan. 11.

PAASI contracted AMC in 2009 for Muhlach to promote an aesthetics company’s weight loss program for PHP10 million, with PHP6.5 million paid before the legal row started.

From March 8, 2010 when the contract was signed, Muhlach was recorded to have lost 32 inches in body width and weighed 182 pounds from a starting point of 190 pounds.

PAASI later sued Muhlach after it discovered that the actor said in interviews that his weight loss was the result of gym workout sessions and minimized food intake.

The Makati City Regional Trial Court Branch 59 later rescinded the talent contract and ordered AMC Entertainment and Muhlach to compensate PAASI for PHP7.4 million.

In reversing and setting aside the Makati court's decision, the CA said Muhlach "was not in material breach of the talent contract," noting among other things that reports that he had been seen working out in a gym in violation of his talent contract were hearsays.

The CA said the talent contract plainly states that Muhlach had the affirmative obligation to undergo weight-loss treatments “three to five times a week during the first phase and at least once a week during the succeeding phases to maintain his ideal weight of ____ pounds.”

The talent contract does not specify where Muhlach would undergo treatment nor was he required to exclusively undergo treatments at the aesthetics company, the CA decision stated.

"All things considered, leaving the parties where they are is the most equitable resolution of this dispute," the CA ruled. “The parties failed to agree on a desired outcome, whether it was of Muhlach's weight or physique. His weight/height profile of the talent contract was left blank by AMC.” (PNA)