Court grants Lipa City Mayor TRO for his suspension

LIPA CITY, Philippines – Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili received on Thursday, August 9, a favorable reply from the Court of Appeals (CA), with the CA granting a 60-day Temporary Restraining Order for the 1-year suspension issued by the Ombudsman against Sabili for Oppression and Conduct Prejudicial to the Best Interest of Service.

In a decision rendered by the Special 4th Division of the CA and signed by Associate Justice Franchito N. Diamante, respondent Teresita T. Pesa, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) were restrained from implementing, enforcing, as well as executing the Ombudsman decision dated December 11, 2017 upon posting by petitioners of a bond in the amount of P100,000.00 each.

“The basic purpose of the restraining order is to preserve the status quo until the hearing of the application for preliminary injunction. It is a preservative remedy for the protection of substantive rights and interests,” the order read. 

Pesa was likewise ordered to file a comment on the petitioners application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and on the Petition for Review within an extendible period of 10 days.

What happened: The case stemmed from a complaint filed by former Lipa City Social Welfare Development Officer Teresita T. Pesa last September 15, 2010 after she was re-assigned and floated in a different position.

Sabili admitted to ordering the reshuffling of employees after he assumed office because he wanted to clean the ranks, an act which he claims is very well within the power of the mayor.

In a 10-page decision signed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on June 27, 2018, Sabili was penalized with one year suspension without pay.

Last July 31, the Office of the Sangguniang Panlungsod issued a resolution questioning the delay of the DILG in implementing the suspension order and appealed to the good sense of justice and propriety of the office.

That same day, DILG Regional Director Manuel Q. Gotis sent a letter to Batangas Governor Hermilando Mandanas informing him of the said suspension order, one which the DILG failed to serve within the week.

Last Monday, August 6, while Sabili was addressing his constituents during the regular flag raising ceremony, a group of barangay captains, together with opposition city councilors, arrived at city hall.

They called on Lipa Vice Mayor Eric Africa to take his oath as Mayor so as not to hamper the delivery of services to the people of Lipa. (READ: Tension grips Lipa city hall due to Mayor’s suspension order)

Upon learning of the TRO, Africa replied, “We respect the due process but nothing changed; we are keen on our commitment to continuously serve.”