MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) declared as submitted for resolution on Monday the petition for writ of preliminary injunction filed by the camp of suspended Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
The court’s oral arguments ended at 5 p.m. Monday and the hearing will resume on Tuesday to hear the petition filed by the camp of Binay seeking to cite for contempt Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II, some Philippine National Police (PNP) officers and Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima.
The matter about the two checks issued during the second term of Mayor Binay was hotly contested during the oral argument.
The two checks served as payment to Mana Architectural and Interior Design Company.
According to Atty. Claro Certeza, counsel of Binay, the two checks were just part of implementing the contract which was signed even before the petitioner served as mayor.
Certeza claimed that it was covered by the “condonation doctrine,” which means that it cannot be used as evidence against Binay.
However, this view was opposed by Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera.
Mosquera argued that it is not important if the two checks are covered by the “condonation doctrine” because it is better to present these as defense in a “full blown administrative adjudication.”
Associate Justice Francisco Acosta, a member of the CA Sixth Division, stressed that it is important to tackle the issue on whether or not to implement the “principle of condonation” in the case.
Acosta maintained that based on the decision of the SC in the case of “Fabian vs. Desierto,” the CA has jurisdiction over the administrative cases pending before the Ombudsman.
On the other hand, the camp of Binay also maintained that the preventive suspension imposed on him had no legal basis.
During the oral arguments at the CA Sixth Division, Certeza, counsel of Binay, argued that there’s no more “strong evidence of guilt” that was used as basis of the Ombudsman’s suspension order.
Certeza claimed that there is also a “substantial invasion of right” on the part of Binay.
He told the CA that the Phases 3, 4 and 5 of the Makati City Hall Building 2 which was used as basis of the suspension order happened during the first term of Binay as mayor.
Based on the “Aguinaldo doctrine,” Certeza said, the transactions which happened during the first term of Binay cannot be used as basis of the suspension order.
He further argued that the two checks which were used as basis in the suspension order were implemented during the second term of Binay merely as payment for the contractors who constructed the building during his firm term.
Certeza also believes that there is no more “plain and speedy remedy” for Binay but to seek redress with the CA, especially since the suspension order by the Ombudsman will bring about “irreparable injury” not only to Binay but to the residents of Makati City as well.
On the part of the respondents, Deputy Ombudsman Gerard Mosquera argued that the service in public office cannot be considered as “absolute right.”
Mosquera stressed that the Ombudsman has the right to issue a preventive suspension to protect the integrity of the corruption investigation in order to make sure that the official concerned cannot use his position to tamper with the documents and evidence.
He also appealed to allow the Office of the Ombudsman to perform its job.
Mosquera also argued that the legal remedy chosen by the camp of Binay was wrong because the findings of the Ombudsman, especially since it is involving the “question of law,” should be elevated to the SC.