MANILA, Philippines – Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr may be cited in contempt if he defies his Ombudsman-ordered 6-month preventive suspension, the anti-corruption body said.
In a press conference Thursday, March 12, Assistant Ombudsman Asryman Rafanan explained that recourses are available to the Office of the Ombudsman if Binay refuses to vacate his post, including having him cited in contempt.
“As provided by the rules of court, it (the Ombudsman) does not directly cite a person in contempt but it can ask the court upon a proper petition,” he explained.
Under Rule 71 of the Rules of Court, a respondent guilty of indirect contempt may be fined. If he refuses to act upon the order despite being able to do so, “he may be imprisoned by order of the court.”
A preventive suspension order is issued against a public official under investigation by the Ombudsman if his or her continued stay “would prejudice the proceedings,” Rafanan explained.
Binay had said he will exhaust all legal remedies to fight the order, which, he said, was expedited.
Rafanan insisted that the issuance of the order went through “the same procedure” and “the same requirements” as other complaints the body is handling, “regardless of external insinuations.” (READ: Ombudsman: No undue haste in Binay suspension)
Rafanan said Binay’s suspension order was received by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) at 10 am on Wednesday, March 11.
With the Interior Secretary having the power to execute the order, the DILG has 5 days to report back to the Ombudsman about its implementation.
On March 2, the government’s prosecutorial arm against erring public officials explained that a “preventive suspension order is immediately executory and that failure to enforce the order is a ground for disciplinary action.”
Rafanan added that the Office of the Ombudsman may immediately direct other law enforcement agencies to enforce the order.
Still, Rafanan said they’d “like to believe and hope that the respondents will obey the rule of law in their avowals of public service.”
“If they’re indeed for public service, then they have to abide by the rule of law,” he added.
The Makati chief executive is being investigated for criminal complaints of malversation, graft and violation of the procurement law, as well as administrative charges for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Rafanan said the charges can still be upgraded or downgraded, depending on the evidence during the preliminary investigation.
Suspension stands despite appeal
Reacting to reports of Binay’s petition before the Court of Appeals (CA) to void his suspension, Rafanan said the Ombudsman order stands “in the absence of any temporary restraining order” from the CA.
Also preventively suspended with Binay are the following public officials named as his co-respondents in the administrative complaint:
- former city administrator Marjorie de Veyra
- city legal officer Pio Kenneth Dasal
- city budget officer Lorenza Amores
- former Central Planning Management Office (CPMO) chief Virginia Hernandez
- former city engineer Mario Badillo
- former city accountant Leonila Querijero
- former acting city accountant Raydes Pestaño
- city accountant Cecilio Lim III
- acting city accountant Eleno Mendoza
- city treasurer Nelia Barlis
- CPMO engineer Arnel Cadangan
- CPMO engineer Emerito Magat
- CPMO engineer Connie Consulta
- CPMO chief Line dela Peña
- Bids and Awards Committee (BAC) secretariat head Giovanni Condes
- BAC secretariat head Manolito Uyaco
- Technical Working Group (TWG) chairman Rodel Nayve
- BAC member Ulysses Orienza
- General Services Department (GSD) OIC Gerardo San Gabriel
- GSD staff member Norman Flores
Rafanan explained that the suspension applies even if the respondents already occupy a different government position from the one they were in at the time of the alleged offense.
The complaints stem from a P11.97-million Makati contract covering the design and architectural services of a car park building. No public bidding, as required by law, was allegedly conducted.
It also alleged that procurement laws were violated in the first two of 5 phases of the building’s construction, as there was no detailed engineering plan.
The special team of investigators that worked on the case for 8 months also found that documents contracting Hilmarc’s Construction Corporation (Hilmarc’s) to build the controversial parking structure were falsified.
A check by Rappler showed that Hilmarc’s was awarded at least P2 billion ($44.67 million)* in government contracts for infrastructure projects in Makati City from 1999 to 2004, covering the mayoral terms of Binay’s parents.
Vice President Jejomar Binay was Makati mayor from 1986 to 1987, 1988 to 1998, and 2001 to 2010. His wife Elenita took over from 1998-2001. (READ: Red flags in ‘overpriced’ Makati infra projects) – Rappler.com