MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The appellate court on Monday, March 16, temporarily stopped the preventive suspension issued by the Ombudsman against of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay.
The Court of Appeals Sixth Division issued a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) on the implementation of Binay’s suspension, the order for which was served by the Department of the Interior and Local Goverment (DILG) just a few hours earlier.
Despite being suspended Monday morning and his vice mayor being sworn in as acting mayor, Binay said he would continue to discharge his duties because he continued to question the legality of the suspension order. He said he would wait for the Court of Appeal’s decision on his motion.
The 6-month suspension order stems from complaints over 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.
In his 25-page petition for certiorari, Binay asked the appellate court to issue a TRO on the implementation of the 6-month preventive suspension order. Named respondents are Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales and the DILG, which is tasked to implement the suspension order.
In his petition with the CA, Binay said the Office of the Ombudsman acted with grave abuse of discretion when it ordered his preventive suspension even if the evidence of guilt against him is not strong. For that, the Ombudsman violated Section 24 of Republic Act 6770 (the Ombudsman Act) and Administrative Order Number 07 (Rules of Procedure of the Office of the Ombudsman).
The Ombudsman told Rappler, however, that the evidence of Binay’s guilt was strong.
Serious issues raised
In its 5-page resolution, the CA resolved to grant the TRO sought by the Binay camp “in view of the seriousness of the issues raised in the Petition for Certiorari and the possible repercussions on the electorate who will unquestionably be affected by suspension of their elective official.”
The resolution was signed by Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr. Concurring are associate justices Francisco Acosta and Eduardo Peralta Jr.
In its resolution, the CA cited the Supreme Court (SC) ruling on Garcia v. Court of Appeals.
In that ruling, the SC held that the suspension of an elective official “will undeservedly deprive the electorate of the services of the person they have conscientiously chosen and voted into office.”
In the same case, the SC also declared that it would have been prudent for the CA to issue a TRO while awaiting the comments of the respondents.
“[The Supreme Court] pointed out that the basic purpose of a restraining order is to preserve the status quo until the hearing of the application for preliminary injunction,” the CA ruling read.
The appellate court directed Binay to post a P500,000 bond.
The hearing of the application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction has been set on March 30 and 31 at 2 pm. – Rappler.com