MANILA — The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Leila M. De Lima to appear and explain on the contempt case filed by Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.
In a two-page resolution of the CA Sixth Division dated April 28, 2015, the CA set a hearing on May 11 and 12.
Also ordered to explain is Vice Mayor Romulo Pena.
“Let the hearings of the petition for contempt, insofar as Secretary of Justice De Lima and Vice Mayor Pena are concerned, be Set on May 11 and 12, 2015 at 2:00 in the afternoon at the En Banc Session Hall,” the CA resolution said.
The resolution was signed by its ponente (or writer of the decision in the case), Associate Justice Jose Reyes Jr.Concurring in the ruling were Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Eduardo Peralta.
The contempt case came about after De Lima, Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas II and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ignored the CA temporary restraining order (TRO) on March 26, 2015 which stopped the “immediately executory” six-month preventive suspension order against Binay.
The preventive suspension without pay was issued by the Ombudsman for the administrative and graft cases filed against Binay and 22 others in connection with the alleged “overpriced” construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
De Lima, Roxas and Morales have interpreted the TRO of the CA before to be “of no force and effect” because it should be considered “moot and academic” since Vice Mayor Pena has already assumed as Acting Mayor of Makati City prior to the TRO issuance by the CA.
The alleged defiance of the Ombudsman, DILG, De Lima and Pena even caused the Binay camp to ask the CA to cite them in contempt.
This prompted the Ombudsman to elevate the case to the Supreme Court (SC).
However, the SC refused to stop the CA with its proceedings and the CA eventually issued a writ of preliminary injunction order against them.
The contempt case against Roxas and Morales was already heard by the CA.
In the petition of Binay, he argued before the CA that the Ombudsman committed a grave abuse of discretion and violated his rights in its suspension order on a mere complaint for corruption case filed against him.
Binay claimed that Morales “whimsically and capriciously disregarded and violated established laws and jurisprudence.”
He added that he was suspended even without asking for his counter-affidavit.
Binay cited an SC jurisprudence which said that a mere signature or approval appearing on the document is not enough to sustain the charge of conspiracy among public officials and employees.
He alleged that the case filed against him before the Ombudsman is weak and does not warrant a preventive suspension.
Binay further argued that the accusation against him of anomaly for the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II involved five construction phases with Phases I and II.
He said that this was undertaken before he was elected as mayor in 2010.
Binay added that only Phases III to V were undertaken during his first term as mayor.