MANILA — The camp of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay, Jr. on Tuesday filed a petition before the Court of Appeals (CA) seeking to cite in contempt Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and five others for allegedly defying the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the CA’s Sixth Division.
The TRO was issued to stop the implementation of the six-month preventive suspension without pay imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman (Ombudsman) against Binay and 22 others.
The “immediately executory” suspension order was in connection with the plunder and graft cases filed against Binay and the 22 others for the alleged “overpriced” construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
In a 10-page petition, Binay asked the CA to cite in contempt the following:
— DILG Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II;
— DILG-National Capital Region (NCR) Director Renato Brion;
— National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Director Carmelo Valmoria;
— Southern Police District (SPD) Director Henry Ranola;
— Senior Supt. Elmer Jamias; and
— Makati City Vice Mayor Romulo Pena.
The camp of Binay argued that despite the issuance of the 60-day TRO by the CA’s Sixth Division, the said respondents disregarded and defied the TRO.
The petitioner further argued that although the DILG received the notice of resolution from the CA at past 3 p.m. on Monday, the contingent of the Philippine National Police (PNP) upon orders of the DILG and the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO), still returned to the Makati City Hall grounds and barricaded again the entrance of the Makati City Hall Building I in order to implement the suspension order from the Office of the Ombudsman.
In a press conference held at Makati City Hall, Atty. Claro Certeza, Binay’s legal counsel, said the TRO issued Monday clearly stated that the Ombudsman’s suspension order should not be implemented but the DILG and the PNP installed the vice mayor as acting mayor, deployed thousands of policemen and hampered the delivery of services.
Certeza also downplayed the opinion of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales that the TRO was “moot and academic.”
“Ang TRO ay inisyu ng Court of Appeals (CA). Unless it is revoked or cancelled, it remains effective regardless of what party litigants say. Epektibo ang TRO at hindi dapat balewalain,” he said.
Certeza said the suspension order was “legally invalid” because there was a TRO that says the order should not be implemented.
Asked on how’s the operation of Makati City Hall, Certeza answered “wala naman akong nakikitang effect but we are trying best to operate in a normal way except for restrict of access and we apologize for the Makati residents in some inconvenience.”
For his part, Southern Police District (SPD) deputy director for operations, Sr. Supt. Elmer Jamias – the police ground commander welcomed the filing of contempt charges against him by Binay’s camp.
“That’s part of my sworn duties as a police officer to be harassed for performing my job in maintaining peace and order. I am ready to defend myself in the proper forum,” he said.
Binay on Tuesday condemned the heavy presence of police officers at the grounds of the Makati City hall building following the issuance of TRO.
The presence of the police officers, including members of the Special Action Force (SAF) police commandos has created what he described as a “sinister atmosphere of martial law” and was causing tension and fear among residents and city government employees.
Late Monday afternoon, police officers equipped with anti-riot gear and long firearms were observed taking up positions in front of the City Hall main building just about an hour after the mayor’s supporters, who had held vigil there for several days, had gone home.
Binay’s supporters dispersed after the mayor – holding a copy of the TRO issued by the CA – personally came down from his office to thank all of them for their support.
Jamias also brushed aside Binay’s allegation that a virtiual “martial law” has been imposed by the Southern Police District at the Makati City hall grounds.
“Ang tanong ko lang, sino ba siya (Binay) to question my authority here as ground commander? I am advising him to write a letter to my superior officer,” he said.
“We are here for the maintenance of peace and order. We would like to protect the Makati residents to prevent any untoward incident that may arise. Kung magkaaway man ang dalawang camps, we will not allow that. That is why we are here. We will protect them. It is normal for both sides na magkaroon ng violence at hindi namin papayagan yun,” he said.
Police officers, including members of the NCRPO and SPD special weapons and tactics (SWAT) teams and SAF commandos have taken posts at the perimeter of the city hall grounds, Jamias has converted the second floor of the old Makati City hall building fronting the new city hall building as his headquarters.
Jamias also denied that police officers were being used for political purposes in the ongoing standoff between Binay and Vice Mayor Pena.
“Pinabbulaanan ko ito. Walang nagutos sa akin na politican. Ang sinusunod ko lang yung lawful order at sworn duties bilang alagad ng batas,” he said.
Jamias said the police officers at the city hall grounds would not leave their posts unless ordered so by the National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO).
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, PNP spokesperson Chief Supt. Generoso Cerbo Jr. said there is no overkill in the deployment of personnel in the Makati City Hall.
Cerbo said the PNP is just following the directive of Roxas to maintain peace and order in the area as some lawless elements might take advantage of the situation