Echiverri gets 17-day extension from RTC
A local court has granted the request of Caloocan City Mayor Enrico Echiverri’s camp for an extension of the 72-hour temporary restraining order (TRO) it issued on Monday stopping the Department of the Interior and Local Government from implementing a suspension order against the local chief executive and three other city officials.
The 17-day extension given by Judge Dionisio Sison of Regional Trial Court Branch 125 was issued hours before the TRO granted by Executive Judge Eleanor Kwong of Branch 128 was about to lapse.
The three-day TRO was issued by Kwong “to maintain public order” and prevent “uncontrolled violence or chaos” between the supporters of the mayor and Vice Mayor Edgar Erice who had set up barricades around city hall.
Erice had filed a complaint in the Office of the Ombudsman against the four city officials in July, accusing them of not remitting P340 million in city hall employees’ contributions to the Government Service Insurance System.
Although Echiverri, city treasurer Evelina Garma, budget officer Jesusa Garcia and city accountant Edna Centeno sought temporary relief from the Court of Appeals in August of last year, the appellate court ruled on January 2 that the Office of the Ombudsman did not commit grave abuse of discretion when it ordered the suspension.
The DILG said earlier it would serve the six-month preventive suspension order against the four officials as soon as the 72-hour TRO lapses.
Mei Go, a member of the mayor’s legal team, however, said hearings would be conducted so the court could determine whether the TRO could lead to an injunction which, unlike the former, lasts indefinitely.
In granting the extension, the court said the petitioners showed they are “public officials” who are “entitled to perform their official duties.”
“Their suspension from office pending the determination of the rights of parties under the assailed implementation order of the DILG would deprive the citizens of Caloocan of the services of the petitioners,” the court said.
Meanwhile, Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said he found “unusual” the actions of the Caloocan City court that issued successive rulings blocking his department from implementing the six-month preventive suspension order.
But he said he intended to follow all issuances from the judicial bodies, including the extended temporary restraining order issued by Executive Judge Eleanor Kwong of the Caloocan Regional Trial Court blocking the suspension order authorized by the Court of Appeals.
“Whether the order is regular or irregular, it is not our mandate to question the orders that we get. We will let the courts resolve the questions,” he said.
Robredo added that it was up to the other parties, including Erice, to question the TRO.—With a report from DJ Yap