Mayor Binay desperately seeks CA relief over second suspension!


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)



Mayor Junjun Binay defies suspension order by the Ombudsman!

MANILA — Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay said Wednesday that he will not step down from his post despite the suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman over his involvement in the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.

The Ombudsman ordered Binay suspended for six months pending the anti-graft agency’s investigation on the case. The mayor and 22 other Makati City officials were also ordered to answer the graft complaint filed against them.

Secretary Manuel Roxas II, who has supervision over local governments, said the order would be served as soon as he gets a copy.

But Binay, who maintained his strong stand to oppose what he described as an oppressive move against his family for political reasons in time for the 2016 elections, said that his battery of lawyers will exhaust all legal remedies, as they already filed a petition for certiorari asking the Court of Appeals (CA) to issue a temporary restraining order against the Ombudsman’s suspension order.

Binay said the CA must first rule on his petition as he argued that the order of the Ombudsman placing him under preventive suspension is not final.

Lawyer Claro Certeza, head of legal team of Mayor Binay, said it is just proper that the implementing agency which will serve the suspension against the mayor recognize the constitutional rights of his client and the Makati voters who elected Binay as their mayor.

“And until such time that our prayer for a temporary restraining order is decided upon, they cannot force my client, Mayor Binay to step down,” Certeza said.

Binay said he is still hopeful that the present government will respect his rights to be heard and will give him fair treatment.

He, meanwhile, asked his constituents in Makati to remain calm despite the recent developments.

“I will continue to discharging my duty as an elected mayor of this city despite the preventive suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman,” he said.

When asked what he will do if the Department of Interior and Local Government would insist on implementing the suspension order, Binay said, “I know my constitutional right and I will stand my ground fighting for my right as a Filipino and for the majority of Makati citizens that voted for me as their mayor.”

Binay pointed to Roxas as the person behind the “special express suspension,” as he maintained that it is not a surprise anymore.

He revealed that those behind the issuance of suspension include special panel of investigators and prosecutors affiliated with former Ombudsman Simeon Marcelo and lawyer Nonong Cruz, whom he tagged as the special operators of Roxas.

Roxas is believed to be one of the top contenders for the 2016 presidential elections under the ruling Liberal Party.

The issue against Binay stemmed from the construction of the 11-storey building. The construction took six years from 2007 and the building was alleged to be overpriced because it should have only cost P700 million and not P2.7 billion.

Binay however told the Senate Blue Ribbon sub-committee in August last year that it is a green and “world-class” building. It was also designed to withstand earthquakes, the mayor had said.

Binay and his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, had repeatedly denied allegations that they amassed unexplained wealth from kickbacks in some projects in Makati, where the Vice President was mayor for two decades before his son succeeded him in 2010.


Sandiganbayan suspends Bong Revilla and aide!


MANILA, Philippines–The Sandiganbayan First Division has ordered the suspension for 90 days of accused plunderers Sen. Bong Revilla and his senior staff, Richard Cambe, in line with the ongoing hearings on the pork barrel scam allegedly perpetrated by Janet Lim-Napoles.

This means that all three senators in the pork plunder case—Revilla, Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada—have been ordered temporarily stripped of their state functions nearly two months after the Ombudsman filed criminal charges against them in the antigraft court.

“As prayed for, accused Revilla and Cambe are hereby suspended from their respective positions as Senator and Director III of Senator Revilla’s office, and from any other public positions they may now or hereafter be holding, effective for 90 days from notice. The President of the Senate shall implement this order once he has been notified of the finality thereof,” according to the three-page document signed by First Division chair Efren N. de la Cruz and Associate Justices Rodolfo A. Ponferrada and Rafael R. Lagos.

“In view of the arraignment of the accused and that validity of the information in the instant case is no longer in question, and invoking the clear mandate of the law, suspension of both accused pending litigation is now mandatory,” the court said.

Revilla’s lawyer, Joel Bodegon, said his client would seek a motion for reconsideration during the allotted two-week period after which the court’s suspension order would be final.

Senate President Franklin Drilon has already declared he would abide by the court order, which he stressed was different from the Senate’s power to suspend any of its members for 60 days.

State prosecutors cited Section 5 of Republic Act No. 7080 in seeking the suspension of Revilla and Cambe: “To prevent the accused from committing further acts of malfeasance, tamper with documentary evidence and intimidate or influence witnesses in the case, it is necessary that the accused be suspended from office while the case is pending in court.”

Revilla had insisted that suspending him would not be necessary because he is in detention and is therefore not in a position to influence witnesses or tamper with evidence.

Revilla also said suspending him would deprive his voters of representation, especially since he got the most number of votes as senator in the country’s electoral history.

Revilla has been accused of plunder and 16 counts of graft after allegedly amassing P224.5 million in kickbacks from Napoles, the biggest among the three senators.

Estrada is alleged to have pocketed P183.79 million in kickbacks from his Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF); Enrile, P172.8 million.

Both Revilla and Cambe are detained at the Philippine National Police Custodial Center in Quezon City, along with Estrada, while

Enrile has been allowed to stay at the PNP General Hospital because of the 90-year-old’s frail condition.

Cambe earlier asked the Supreme Court to stop his prosecution, claiming that Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing its joint order on March 28, which found probable cause to indict him for plunder and graft.

Cambe, through his lawyer Remigio Ancheta III, said Morales totally ignored his counteraffidavits and evidence and even attributed to him statements and defenses he did not make in resolving the case against him.

Both Revilla and Cambe have claimed that their signatures on the documents used by the Ombudsman for their indictment were forged, noting that whistle-blower Benhur Luy himself admitted to counterfeiting documents and signatures to facilitate the transfer of PDAF to nongovernment organizations owned by Napoles.


After being jailed, Jinggoy Estrada is now suspended from Senate!


MANILA, Philippines – The Sandiganbayan’s 5th division on Friday ordered the 90-day suspension of detained Senator Jose “Jinggoy” Estrada, who is charged with plunder and graft for his alleged involvement in the pork barrel scam.

The suspension of Estrada was sought by the Office of the Ombudsman.


In the anti-graft court’s 3rd division, lawyer Jessica Lucila “Gigi” Reyes, where the former chief of staff of Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce Enrile is charged along with her ex-boss, refused to enter a plea prompting President Justice Amparo Caotaje Tang to enter a not guilty plea on her behalf.

The Sandiganbayan division rejected Estrada’s contention that suspending him will adversely affect the welfare of his constituents.

“…The fear of the accused that his constituents will be paralyzed for ninety days when he is preventively suspended is remote. There will still remain 21 other Senators of the Republic of the Philippines who can meet as such,” it said. “The Senate President will surely know how to deal with the problem of filling up the temporary vacancies in accordance with the provisions of the Rules of Senate.”

The senator’s suspension will be automatically lifted after 90 days.

In its motion seeking Estrada’s suspension, the Ombudsman cited Section 13 of RA 3019, which states: “Any public officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under the provision of the Revised Penal Code on bribery is pending in court shall be suspended from Office.”

Aside from Estrada, the Ombudsman has also sought the suspension of Enrile and Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla Jr.

Estrada faces one count of plunder and 11 counts of graft. On the other hand, Enrile faces one count of plunder and 15 counts of graft, while Revilla is facing one count of plunder and 16 counts of plunder.

Estrada is accused of pocketing P183.79 million in kickbacks from dealings with fake NGOs from 2004 to 2012. The Ombudsman said Estrada chose bogus NGOs as “project partners” for livelihood projects financed by his PDAF.

Reacting to Estrada’s suspension, Senate President Franklin Drilon said the Senate “will abide by the process in accordance with the Constitution and the laws.”

“The Senate will respect every step in the investigation of this case,” a statement from Drilon’s office said. “We will fully abide by the preventive suspension order issued by the Sandiganbayan and we will implement the order.”

While suspended, he said, Estrada “cannot in any manner perform the function of his office within the duration of preventive suspension. He is barred from attending sessions, filing bills, holding committee hearings and signing committee reports.”

Drilon also said the suspension will not affect the functions of the committee on labor, which Estrada chairs, since the panel’s vice chairman will automatically take over.

“We will continue to function despite the suspension order. The Senate is not about the senators and it is not about the pork barrel scam controversy. We have a mandate to fulfill and with our performance during the First Regular Session, we have proven that the Senate could not be hampered by any controversy,” he said.


Korina Sanchez denies being suspended explains absence!

Korina Sanchez finally issued a statement on the rumors that she is suspended from TV Patrol!


The rumor started when she was not seen on “TV Patrol” since Thursday last week. The day after she was quoted as saying, “Itong si Anderson Cooper, sabi wala daw government presence sa Tacloban. Mukhang hindi niya alam ang sinasabi niya.”

The rumor was either she was suspended or asked to go on leave after netizens lambasted her for criticizing CNN journalist Anderson Cooper’s report on the absence of government presence in Tacloban City.

This is what she reportedly said on DZMM radio:

 “Marami kasing spekulasyon bakit wala ako sa studio last week. Ang spekulasyon hindi naman totoo ‘yan. Matagal na kasing naka-schedule ang ‘Rated K’ na iikot sa iba’t-ibang nasalanta ng delubyo. Ito ay trabaho.”

And they were originally scheduled for Tacloban City on Nov. 13 but they have to go to Ormoc instead:

“Pinigilan kami ng kumpanya kasi delikado daw so na-divert kami sa Ormoc. Dalawang araw kami dun.”

On returning to TV Patrol as soon as her special coverage is done:

“Tatapusin ko lang ito, babalik din ako diyan. Inaayos ko lang itong for airing namin sa darating na Sunday.”


Korina Sanchez on vacation or suspended?

A very reliable source said that Korina Sanchez will not be seen on TV Patrol for a week! She was not seen on the news program since Thursday, November 14.

TV Patrol anchors 'Kabayan' Noli De Castro, Korina Sanchez, and Ted Failon (1)

They said that Sanchez is on vacation, but others alleged that she was suspended due to her remarks about what Anderson Cooper said on his report on the survivors of typhoon Yolanda. Which irks the netizen. And in the end it was found out that Cooper did not say anything about the absence of the government officials in the relief effort. (See related article HERE!)

Reports have it that Sanchez went to Ormoc, Leyte but we did not see her on television reporting live from there.

Is she suspended or on vacation?


Robert Blair Carabuena is suspended from work over the controversial mauling of MMDA Officer!

Robert Blair Carabuena, who became famous after being caught on cam manhandling an MMDA officer Saturnini Fabros, after he was cited for ignoring the traffic officer’s to halt in an intersection.

Carabuena who worked in tobacco giant PMFTC [Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Corp.] as an HR executive  has been suspended form his job pending the outcome of the investigation.

Although the incident with a traffic enforcer that took place on Saturday, August 11. Mr. Carabuena was on his personal time and not on duty for the company at the time.

Tobacco giant Philip Morris’s Philippine office has suspended its executive Robert Blair Carabuena, captured on a widely circulated video assaulting Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) traffic officer Saturnino Fabros in Quezon City last weekend.

Here is what the company said:

“PMFTC has suspended Mr. Carabuena pending the outcome of the investigation.

“PMFTC reiterates that it does not condone inappropriate conduct by any of our employees.”

Kudos to PMFTC for quick action.


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