CA issues TRO on Junjun Binay suspension
MANILA, Philippines—The Court of Appeals’ Sixth Division on Monday issued a 60-day restraining order stopping the implementation of the Office of the Ombudsman’s six-month suspension of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay.
In its five-page resolution, the appeals court’s said “on account of the extreme urgency of the matter and the seriousness of the issues raised in the certiorari petition,” a restraining order is necessary “while it awaits the respective comments of the respondents and while it judiciously contemplates on whether or not to issue a writ of preliminary injunction.”
The appeals court also set a hearing on March 30 and 31 to determine if the restraining order will be made permanent.
The appeals court also required the Office of the Ombudsman through Conchita Carpio-Morales and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to comment within 10 days.
The Ombudsman suspended Binay on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, after a special panel charged the mayor and several others with graft and malversation of public funds in connection with the allegedly overpriced Makati City Parking Building 2.
Following the suspension, Binay went to the Court of Appeals and asked for a restraining order.
He also asked the appeals court to nullify the suspension order which he said was issued with grave abuse of discretion.
In his 24-page petition, Binay said the Ombudsman committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the suspension order even without evidence showing how he conspired in pushing through with the construction of the overpriced building, aside from his signature.
“There is absolutely no evidence relied upon by respondent Office of the Ombudsman to show that petitioner had any foreknowledge of any irregularity, if there was any to be committed or that he intentionally participated in the planning, preparation or perpetration in the alleged conspiracy to defraud the City Government of Makati,” the petition said.
“In this case, respondent Office of the Ombudsman clearly acted in a capricious and whimsical exercise of judgment when she preventively suspended the Petitioner despite the fact that no strong evidence, if any at all, has been presented against him,” the petition further stated.
Binay added that the order violated his rights because the Ombudsman tends to suspend him for accusations allegedly committed during his previous term.
“The issuance of the order of preventive suspension necessarily violated Petitioner’s rights since it seeks to suspend him for allegations, which assuming without conceding to be true can no longer hold him administratively liable considering the doctrines laid down in the case of Aguinaldo v. Santos…” Binay said.
In the case of Aguinaldo v. Santos, the Supreme Court ruled that “a public official cannot be removed for administrative misconduct committed during a prior term since his re-election to office operates as a condonation of the officer’s previous misconduct to the extent of cutting off the right to remove him thereof.”
In its resolution, the appeals court said it has considered issuing a restraining order “so as not to render moot, nugatory and ineffectual the resolution of the of the issues [raised by Binay] in his petition.”
Binay and several others were preventively suspended for six months after the Ombudsman’s panel of investigators filed its complaint over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Parking Building.
Binay, his father Vice President Jejomar Binay and 22 others have been slapped with a case for malversation, falsification, graft and violation of the procurement law.
The complaint said the respondents awarded the P11.9-million contract for the design and architectural services to MANA Architecture and Interior Design Company without public bidding.
It also said that payment for the contract was released to MANA even without the deliverables made.
Originally posted @ 12:23 a.m., March 16, 2015
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