Ombudsman asks SC: Stop CA order on Binay case
The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered the Court of Appeals (CA) and Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay to respond to the Ombudsman’s petition to stop the temporary restraining order (TRO) the appellate court had issued against the mayor’s suspension.
The high court gave the appellate court and the mayor until April 6 to respond to Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales’ petition filed late Wednesday afternoon.
The high court held a special en banc session, its second on Thursday, to take up the certiorari plea as magistrates are set to go on a break before the summer session begins in Baguio City after the Holy Week.
In her petition, Morales cited the Ombudsman’s independence and underscored the importance of enforcing Binay’s six-month suspension while he faced investigation for the alleged overprice in the construction of Makati City Hall Building II.
The Ombudsman’s petition asked the high court to immediately issue a TRO against the appellate court’s TRO, in effect “enjoining respondent Binay from continuing to misrepresent himself as the city mayor of Makati City and discharging functions as such.”
“[I]t bears emphasis that the preventive suspension ordered by the Office of the Ombudsman against respondent Binay is integral to the ongoing process of administrative adjudication against him,” Morales said.
“Placing a public officer or employee facing an administrative complaint under preventive suspension is an aid to investigation made available to the Office of the Ombudsman,” she said.
Binay camp ‘happy’
The lawyer of Binay said the Vice President was “in a way” happy that the Ombudsman was seeking the proper channels instead of simply ignoring the TRO.
Lawyer Claro Certeza said the filing of the petition meant that the Office of the Ombudsman recognized the TRO.
“If they do not recognize the TRO, why do they have to go to the Supreme Court?” Certeza said in a press conference at City Hall.
He said the Binay camp had yet to receive a copy of the petition but maintained that the appellate court’s TRO should be respected.
CA’s grave abuse
Morales said the CA had committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the TRO, citing how it caused confusion at Makati City Hall.
“To date, the people of Makati City, as well as those transacting official business with the city government and the general public are in total confusion as a result of the issuance of the TRO by respondent Court of Appeals,” she said.
Binay and his Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña both claim that he and not the other is the one in charge of the city.
While Binay maintains that the 60-day TRO he obtained from the CA stopped his suspension, Peña has been asserting his authority as acting mayor, having been sworn in just hours before the appellate court released the order.
In her petition, Morales reiterated her view that the suspension had already been served before the TRO was issued, making the issuance moot.
“Petitioner submits that respondent Binay conveniently ignores and glosses over the documented facts that when respondent Court of Appeals’ first resolution (TRO) was issued, the suspension order had priorly been served on him on March 11 and was fully implemented on March 16 at 8:30 in the morning,” Morales said.
Morales, Peña, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and several police officials are facing a contempt case that Binay recently filed against them, citing how they have disobeyed the appellate court’s TRO.
In his press conference, Certeza said the appellate court’s TRO “remains and continues to be in effect and until the Supreme Court says otherwise then it should be respected.”
He said the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Peña should stop their defiance of the order.
“The TRO was issued to avoid confusion. While the issue is not resolved, the DILG and Ombudsman should respect it. If they do not agree, they should bring it to the proper courts,” the Binay lawyer said.
If asked to comment on the petition filed in the Supreme Court, Certeza said the Binay camp would state that the mayor’s suspension had no basis in relation to the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building II.
“At the time when they were making him (Binay) liable which was the Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project, he was not yet mayor. With regards to the Phases 3 to 5, it occurred during his first term and since he was already reelected,” Certeza said.
The bidding for Makati City Building II and the start of its construction happened when Vice President Jejomar Binay was mayor of Makati.
Certeza said the younger Binay’s reelection was an indication that Makati voters did not give credence to the charges against him and that he could not be made administratively liable.
If the Supreme Court would favor the Office of the Ombudsman, Certeza said the Binay camp would “exhaust all legal remedies” to ensure that Binay would continue representing the electorate of Makati.
“But if at the end of the day after exhausting all our legal remedies, the court will not recognize our side, so be it. We will accept that,” he said.
Discussing the technicality of the filing of the petition, Certeza said that there was no motion for reconsideration filed by the Office of the Ombudsman in the CA on the TRO.
“That is very basic. Before anything could be elevated to the Supreme Court, the requirement is that there should be a motion for reconsideration. I do not know why they resorted to directly filing it in the SC. Under normal circumstances, the failure to file a motion for reconsideration is enough basis to dismiss a petition,” Certeza said.
He noted that the Ombudsman filed in the CA only a manifestation of its opinion that the TRO was “already moot and academic.”
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