Ombudsman junks Junjun Binay's appeal on dismissal order
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Former Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr remains dismissed and perpetually barred from holding public office.
This was the decision of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales junking the appeal of Binay and 19 other officials who were dismissed because of the “flagrant anomalies” they allegedly committed in the design and construction of the Makati city hall parking building II.
A copy of the 29-page joint decision on 6 docketed complaints was obtained by Rappler on Friday, February 5.
The Ombudsman dismissed Binay and the following officials in October 2015 due to irregularities allegedly committed from 2007 to 2013, in connection with the P2.28-billion Makati parking building project:
- Marjorie de Veyra
- Pio Kenneth Dasal
- Lorenza Amores
- Virginia Hernandez
- Line dela Peña
- Mario Badillo
- Leonila Querijero
- Raydes Pestaño
- Nelia Barlis
- Cecilio Lim III
- Arnel Cadangan
- Emerito Magat
- Connie Consulta
- Ulysses Orienza
- Giovanni Condes
- Manolito Uyaco
- Gerardo San Gabriel
- Eleno Mendoza Jr
- Rodel Nayve
Binay's camp previously alleged that the October 9, 2015 dismissal order was a "calculated attack" by Morales.
It was released roughly 3 weeks before the Court of Appeal's (CA) junked Binay's petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on his second preventive suspension order. The CA said Binay's petition for a TRO has been rendered moot by the Ombudsman's dismissal order.
Morales on Friday also upheld another decision finding probable cause to indict Binay and his father, former Makati mayor and now Vice President Jejomar Binay, for criminal charges over the Makati city hall parking building II.
Binay, who was elected Makati mayor twice in 2010 and 2013, made several arguments protesting his dismissal order:
- He was not given due process and the dismissal order is premature as it was issued when the Supreme Court (SC) had yet to decide on the case involving his preventive suspension order. (READ: SC upholds CA power to review Ombudsman orders)
- He was not part of the Makati Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) and thus did not directly participate in the bidding process for the infrastructure project.
- The Ombudsman’s Special Panel of Investigators held him accountable for acts committed in 2007, when he was not yet elected as mayor. The Makati parking building was initiated by VP Binay in 2007 when he was still mayor. The project was completed in 2013, when Junjun Binay was already local chief executive.
- He invoked the now-revoked condonation doctrine, which says the administrative offenses of an elected official are already deemed forgiven when the public decides to re-elect him or her for another term.
The Ombudsman maintained, however, that due process was given to the respondents because they were “duly notified of and given an opportunity to be heard” on the administrative complaint filed against them.
According to Morales, the respondents even submitted counter-affidavits, rejoinders, and position papers to the Ombudsman.
Morales, citing Trajano v Uniwide, also said the dismissal order was not premature.
“Applying Trajano, since no injunctive writ or order was issued either by the Court of Appeals or the Supreme Court to suspend the proceedings in these cases, there was no reason to await the resolution of the issues brought to the higher courts before the assailed Decision was issued,” she said.
The Ombudsman said the condonation doctrine, which the SC has already struck down, does not apply to Binay as well.
Morales explained Binay’s approval of the payments to Mana Architecture and Interior Design Company and Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation during his 2013-2016 term is “independent” of the act of awarding previous contracts to the same companies during his 2010-2013 term.
The Ombudsman also previously said that as mayor, Binay had the responsibility to ensure that the contracts the city government was entering into were "fair, reasonable and advantageous to the government."
Documents indicate that Binay approved the BAC resolutions, notices of awards, contracts, and payments.
"By so acting, Binay intentionally closed his eyes to the irregularities by failing to observe utmost diligence," said Morales.
Ombudsman's 'political tools' vs Binays
VP Binay's media affairs head Joey Salgado said the Binay camp is no longer surprised about the Ombudsman's decision.
"[This is] nothing new and totally expected given the Ombudsman's bias," he told Rappler in a text message.
In a separate statement on Friday, salgado said the Ombudsman's resolutions are "political tools" against VP Binay, who continues to lead in election surveys despite a string of corruption allegations.
The Ombudsman released its decision finding probable cause to indict Binay on the day he filed his certificate of candidacy. Morales' latest decision against the Vice President came just days before the start of the official campaign period on February 9.
"Sobra-sobra na ang panggigipit kay Vice President Binay at sa kanyang pamilya. Inamin ni Vice President na masakit ang ginagawang paninira sa kanya pero mas nasasaktan siya sa nakikita niyang laganap na gutom at kahirapan," said Salgado.
(This unjust treatment of Vice President Binay and his family is too much. The Vice President admits the mudslinging against him is painful, but what hurts him more is seeing widespread hunger and poverty in the country.)
"Ito ang dahilan kung bakit lalo pa niyang ipagpapatuloy ang kanyang sinimulang paglilingkod sa Makati: para mabigyan ng ginhawa ang mga mahihirap nating kababayan," he added.
(This is why he plans to continue for the rest country what he started in Makati: to give relief to our poor countrymen.) – Rappler.com