Junjun Binay includes Ombudsman Morales, De Lima in contempt petition
MANILA, Philippines—Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay included on Thursday Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima in his contempt plea before the Court of Appeals, saying the officials, along with those earlier impleaded, were in collusion to force his removal from office.
In an amended and supplemental petition filed at the CA, Binay’s counsels named Morales and De Lima as additional respondents in the contempt plea.
Earlier impleaded in the petition were Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, several police officials and Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña for insisting on Binay’s suspension despite the TRO.
In a statement, Binay’s legal team said the respondents were in collusion to block the enforcement of the TRO, which has given Binay a 60-day reprieve from the Ombudsman’s suspension order in connection with administrative charges over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Building 2.
“[The respondents], acting in unison in defying the Court of Appeals’ Restraining Order, show their ill motives and bias against the Binays. Worse, their actions insult the integrity and competence of the Court of Appeals. Thus, they should be cited for contempt of court,” said the Subido, Pagente, Certeza, Mendoza Binay (SPCMB) Law Office in a statement.
Morales had slammed Binay’s refusal to vacate City Hall despite her suspension order and the convergence of his supporters at the government building’s grounds. She said the TRO was “silent” on what it sought to prevent and no longer had an effect as the DILG had already served the suspension order when the TRO was released.
In media interviews meanwhile, De Lima said as much, saying the TRO came too late and thus carried no effect on the suspension.
In the petition, Binay’s camp said the respondents “have no intention to comply with the TRO.” It underlined Morales’ and De Lima’s role in reinforcing DILG’s interpretation that that TRO was already moot.
“In fact, in an attempt to justify their contumacious acts, it seems the respondents have succeeded in enlisting the participation of the respondent Ombudsman, who appears to have mimicked the DILG’s stand that the TRO has supposedly been rendered moot,” the 14-page petition read.
It cited the justice chief’s speedy issuance of a legal opinion on the effect of the TRO, saying she was merely “parroting the position of the DILG.”
“In an obvious effort to conspire with the DILG to instigate unrest among the constituents of Makati City, respondent De Lima even incited Peña to defy the TRO and usurp the Office of the Makati City Mayor by stating her legal opinion that he “may continue to dispense the duties and exercise the powers of said office without being bound by the CA’s TRO,” the petition read.
Binay’s camp said De Lima’s act was “clearly a blatant attempt” to violate the separation of powers.
Asked to comment, De Lima asked where’s the disobedience when the TRO had no effect?
“I’m not sure of the basis of such contempt charge but I’m sure that any such charge for indirect contempt in the context of this case will sound hollow considering that there can be no basis for contempt if the TRO was, by its very nature, rendered ineffective and moot and academic due to two supervening events,” De Lima said in a text message to reporters.
She reiterated that the DILG’s service of the suspension order and Peña’s oath-taking as acting mayor before the release of the TRO had rendered it moot.
“The ineffectivity of the TRO was not rendered by any other external act of the respondent after its issuance but by these supervening eents which took place before the issuance of the TRO. So where is no contumacious act here?” she added.
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