CA submits Binay TRO, contempt petitions for resolution
MANILA, Philippines – The Court of Appeals (CA) Sixth Division has submitted for resolution the petitions of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay Jr seeking the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction against his 6-month preventive suspension and the filing of contempt charges against the Ombudsman, and the secretaries of justice and of the interior and local government.
The development came after two days of hearings, the Ombudsman said in a press release.
Binay filed the petitions in a bid to junk the preventive suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against him over the alleged overpricing of a Makati City building.
The Ombudsman announced the preventive suspension of Binay and other city officials on March 11. Five days later, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) served the order on Binay.
But hours after the DILG implemented the order, the CA Sixth Division issued a TRO.
The Binay camp insists that the TRO is in effect and Binay remains to be the mayor of Makati. Meanwhile, the Ombudsman, the Department of Justice (DOJ), and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), are of the position that the TRO is moot and academic since it was issued too late.
The situation has resulted in a power struggle in Makati between Binay and Vice Mayor Romulo Peña. (READ: Peña won't sign pay checks of Makati councilors, staff)
During the CA oral arguments Monday, March 30, the Ombudsman moved to suspend the hearings since there is a pending petition before the Supreme Court seeking to junk the TRO on the Binay suspension.
But Sixth Division chair Justice Jose Reyes Jr ruled that the hearing must proceed in the absence of a TRO from the high court.
In arguing against the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction, Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera said Binay has no "clear legal right" to his public office and is not entitled to protection through such measures "since a public office is a public trust and must not be treated as property."
The writ of preliminary injunction would extend the 6-day TRO on Binay's suspension until the case is resolved.
During Tuesday's hearing on the contempt charges against Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, DOJ Secretary Leila de Lima, and DILG Secretary Mar Roxas, the CA questioned the OSG's move to seek De Lima's advice on the legality of the TRO instead of asking the CA itself to clarify its position.
Mosquera also reiterated that Morales may not be subjected to contempt proceedings since she is an impeachable officer. – Angela Casauay/Rappler.com