Ombudsman: Binay TRO too late

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales (left). (Photo from the Senate Public Relations and Information Bureau)

MANILA (Updated) -- Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales said Tuesday that the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) on the six-month preventive suspension against Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. was moot and academic.

In a manifestation filed with the CA Sixth Division, Morales said she found the dispositive portion of the CA resolution “silent” on what the TRO seeks to stop.

She added any TRO to be issued by the CA to stop the implementation of the preventive suspension order has become moot and academic as “there is no more act to be restrained.”

Morales informed the appellate court that the preventive suspension order on Binay and others had been served and implemented by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) even before the promulgation of the CA resolution.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima thought so, too.

Responding to DILG's request for her legal opinion on the matter, de Lima said the TRO issued by the CA is a temporary injunction, not a preliminary mandatory injunction.

"As such, it cannot apply to acts already accomplished, such as the issuance of the Ombudsman joint order and its implementation by the DILG," she said.

She said the only remedy of Binay is to amend his petition with an additional prayer for the issuance of a preliminary mandatory injunction, with the allegation that the TRO has been rendered moot and academic due to the intervening event of the implementation of the Ombudsman directive.

A mandatory injunction can only be properly issued by the court after notice and hearing.

The Department of Justice said Makati Vice Mayor Romulo Peña Jr. may continue to function as acting mayor since he is not a party to the case.

In the DILG’s compliance report submitted by DILG National Capital Region Director Renato Brion to the Ombudsman, the agency reported that at 8:24 a.m. Monday, the preventive suspension order was served, and at 9:47 a.m., Peña was sworn into office and assumed the position as acting Makati City mayor.

The CA resolution was promulgated at 11:22 a.m. of the same day.

Morales also denounced the practice of suspended public officials encouraging the massing of people who obstruct or hinder the proper exercise of the functions of the office.

Binay supporters gathered outside the city hall after the mayor was ordered suspended on March 11 for corruption allegations in relation to the construction of the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2. (SDR/Virgil Lopez/Sunnex)

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