Mayor Binay desperately seeks CA relief over second suspension!

Source: Interaksyon.com

MANILA, Philippines —  Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. has again sought relief from the Court of Appeals against his suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman.

But Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Binay may face additional administrative and even criminal charges for defying the preventive suspension order.

Binay filed his petition Tuesday morning, a day after his preventive suspension was ordered over the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati Science High School Building and around the same time Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Pena Jr. was sworn in as acting mayor.

Just before Pena was sworn in, a brief fracas erupted at the Makati City Hall, where Binay has locked himself in since Monday, as his supporters hurled plastic chairs to prevent police and representatives of the Department of Interior and Local Government from posting the notice of suspension on the building.

The Ombudsman first ordered Binay suspended in March over the alleged overpricing in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2. However, that order was not served after the CA issued a temporary restraining order.

In his petition, Binay asked the CA to “correct” the alleged “grave abuse of discretion” committed by Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales in ordering his suspension six-month preventive suspension by issuing a temporary restraining order.

Binay said the Ombudsman erred in ruling he should be held accountable for the alleged anomaly considering that three of the construction’s seven phases were undertaken before he became mayor.

“Petitioner cannot be held accountable for any for any alleged anomaly involving Phases I, II and III of the project as he was not yet the elected mayor,” Binay’s 35-page petition said.

He again invoked the so-called Aguinaldo doctrine, saying any administrative liability on his part for the subsequent phases of the construction had been removed when he was reelected in 2013, beating by a wide margin lawyer Renato Bondal, who filed the complaint against him.

In his complaint, Bondal accused the mayor of conspiring with other city officials to rig the bidding in favor of Hilmarcs and claimed what should have been a P470-million project had been overpriced by more than P862 million.

Binay also argued that the Office of the Ombudsman had failed to present “strong evidence” to justify his suspension, in violation of its own charter.

“Considering that the undisputed acts of the case and the very allegations of the complaint itself clearly evince a conclusion that petitioner cannot be held administratively liable and there is no evidence, much less any allegation of specific acts constituting a criminal offense, necessarily the assailed Joint Order was issued with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction as it disregards the law and established jurisprudence,” the petition said.

The mayor also accused the Ombudsman on relying on “hearsay statements” that his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, ordered the bidding for the MSHS construction rigged.

In any event, he said, “it must be emphasized that there is nothing in the Joint Order or the said Sworn Statements that mention Petitioner, much less attributes any acts against him.”

Neither, the mayor added, was there any truth to Bondal’s claim that the Invitation and Application for Eligibility to Bid for the MSHS construction was not published, pointing out that the Ombudsman’s Field Investigation Officers admitted that it had been.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima said Binay may face additional administrative and even criminal charges for defying the preventive suspension order.

Two lawmakers suggested that it would be good for Mayor Binay to heed the suspension order and step down temporarily to allow due process to take its course.

“They are not the gifts of God to the people of Makati. There are other people who can run the city,” Caloocan Representative Edgar Erice underscored in a news conference.

Erice, a staunch critic of the Binays and stalwart of the administration’s Liberal Party (LP), said Binay should abide by the Ombudsman’s order and temporarily leave his post.

The mayor can go to court and question the decision if he believes his rights have been violated, he added.

In the same news conference, Akbayan partylist RepresentatIve Ibarra Gutierrez said Binay has all the opportunities to question the suspension order, but added that he has to first comply.

“It’s not a pretty sight from the point of view of the rule of law,” Gutierrez said. “Instead of respecting the order of the Ombudsman, you have a show of defiance.”

Erice played down observations that the Binays were being singled out by the courts, and that the cases against the allies of administration were not being acted upon: “They’ve probably just grown so used to having their way with nobody to scrutinize their actions, but in this Administration’s Tuwid na Daan (Right Path) mantra, everything should be transparent and subject to perusal.” (With a report from Lira Dalangin-Fernandez)

 

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