CA junks Junjun Binay’s case vs Roxas, Ombudsman
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) has junked dismissed Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr's contempt charges against former interior secretary Manuel "Mar" Roxas II, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, former justice Secretary Leila de Lima, and 5 others.
In a 48-page decision released on Tuesday, March 22, Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr of the appellate court's Sixth Division said Binay's case "lacks merit."
Binay had asked the CA to cite the respondents in contempt for defying the court's temporary restraining order (TRO) against his first preventive suspension order over the alleged overpricing of the Makati City Hall Parking Building II.
Others cited in the contempt plea are the following:
- Renato Brion, Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)-National Capital Region director
- Carmelo Valmoria, Philippine National Police-National Capital Region Police Office director
- Chief Superintendent Henry Rañola Jr, Southern Police District director
- Senior Superintendent Elmer Jamias
- Acting Makati Mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña Jr
There was a stand-off in city hall after Binay refused to leave his office and recognize Peña being sworn in as acting mayor.
In Binay's petition, he said the respondents should be charged with indirect contempt because of their "persistent and wanton refusal" to comply with the TRO.
According to him, it was a "clear defiance of this Honorable Court's authority and dignity and tends to bring the administration of justice into disrespect."
In its decision on Tuesday, however, the CA said it does not hold the respondents liable for indirect contempt.
'Just doing their jobs'
According to CA, the DILG and police authorities were merely performing their duty to implement the Ombudsman's order.
"Apparently, the DILG's implementation of the Joint Order was in the performance of its ministerial duty. A ministerial duty is one which an officer or tribunal performs in a given state of facts, in a prescribed manner, in obedience to the mandate of a legal authority, without regard to or the exercise of his own judgment upon the propriety or impropriety of the act done," the CA said.
The court also did not find anything contemptous in Peña being sworn in as acting mayor.
"A conduct, to be contumacious, implies willfulness, bad faith or with deliberate intent to cause injustice which is not the case here," it said.
Morales' order to suspend Binay, meanwhile, "merely reflects her legal opinion, contains neither offensive nor derogatory language and thus, not contumacious," the court said.
The CA also said that De Lima's legal opinion on Binay’s suspension order "was not so worded as to offend this Honorable Court."
"On the contrary, it was couched in a courteous language. Besides, the legal opinion made by respondent de Lima is merely persuasive and not controlling," it said.
Three respondents in the case are Liberal Party candidates in the May elections: Roxas for president, De Lima for senator, and Peña for Makati mayor.
Roxas is up against the dismissed mayor's father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, in a 5-way presidential race. In the Makati mayoral race, Peña is running against incumbent Makati Second District Abigail Binay and art director Jimmy Jumawan.
Binay was dimissed because of the alleged anomalies in the design, construction, and bidding procedure for the Makati City Hall Parking Building II.
The Supreme Court earlier ruled that the appellate court had the right to issue the TRO on Binay's first preventive suspension order, but the act had already been rendered moot when he was dismissed and barred from holding public office.
Binay and other city hall officials are now facing charges of graft and falsification of documents before anti-graft court Sandiganbayan.
Both the Ombudsman and the Commission on Audit found VP Binay also liable for graft and corruption in connection with the Makati City Hall Parking Building II, which started construction under his watch.
Criminal charges may only be filed against him after his term, and if he loses the presidential elections. – Rappler.com