MANILA, Philippines – Former poll body chief Sixto Brillantes Jr said Makati Vice Mayor Romulo Peña should have immediately assumed office as acting mayor for his claim to the position to be recognized.
Speaking on ANC’s Headstart on Tuesday, March 24, Brillantes said 3 things were necessary for Peña to take over, following the suspension of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay last March 16.
Binay has maintained that he remains the city’s leader because of a court order he obtained stopping his suspension, which came a few hours after Peña’s oath-taking as acting mayor.
Brillantes said that for the implementation of the Ombudsman’s suspension order to be upheld, 3 things are needed: the service of the suspension order, the oath-taking of the vice mayor, and his assumption to office as acting mayor.
The former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chief stressed that assumption to office is different from the oath-taking.
“After taking the oath, you don’t really assume the office as yet. At the time the temporary restraining order (TRO) was issued, he has not yet assumed office…The suspension order has been served, he has taken his oath, but the assumption to office has not been done,” Brillantes said.
He added that Peña should have immediately issued a memorandum to city officials announcing that he is now assuming the position of mayor.
Peña did so only last March 19, three days after being sworn in and after the Court of Appeals (CA) already issued the TRO.
Brillantes added, “Oath taking does not give you the right to the position immediately. You have to start functioning and he never started functioning. He started functioning only after the TRO was already been issued.”
The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the Ombudsman have both backed Peña, saying the TRO was now “moot and academic” because it came after the suspension order was served and Peña sworn in.
But Brillantes said that the TRO granted in favor of Binay should be recognized because it was issued by the judiciary.
“Between the Ombudsman and the court, the court should be recognized in the meantime,” he said.
“Junjun Binay should remain as mayor and everybody should recognize the TRO,” he added.
‘DILG tried to preempt CA’
The former elections chief also pointed to the DILG as the source of the leadership confusion now affecting the city.
The Ombudsman gave the DILG 5 days to implement the 6-month preventive suspension against Binay and other city officials. The Makati mayor immediately filed a petition seeking a TRO from the CA.
Brillantes said the DILG should have waited for the 5 days to lapse before serving the order.
He added that in the case of the Comelec, the poll body usually waits out the 5-day period before serving an order to unseat an elected official.
This allows officials to seek legal remedies or voluntarily step down.
“The DILG already knows about the petition, and that the court may issue an order, so they should have waited if the court will issue an order or not…They should have waited for the 5 days. They preempted [the CA order],” Brillantes said.
He added, “Para bang nararamdaman na nila na magkakaroon ng TRO, so bilisan mo na i-serve na natin, ipa-oath na natin si vice mayor.” (It’s as if they know that there will be a TRO, so they rushed to serve the order and make the vice mayor take his oath.)
“But they forgot one thing. They did not ask the mayor to assume immediately.” – Rappler.com