SC: No TRO yet on CA order vs Mayor Binay suspension

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

THE Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday did not issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) to stop the Court of Appeals (CA) with its proceedings and the power of its stay order on the preventive suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman against Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

Instead, the SC just issued an order mandating the CA and Binay to file their respective comments to the petition of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales on or before April 6, the start of the Court's summer session in Baguio City.

In a 31-page petition for certiorari and prohibition filed on Wednesday, Morales asked the SC to stop the CA Sixth Division from continuing with its hearing on the Binay case scheduled on March 30 and 31.

Morales accused the CA of grave abuse of discretion in issuing the order that issued a TRO stopping the Ombudsman preventive suspension order against Binay and the order mandating the Ombudsman to answer Binay's petition to cite Morales in contempt for allegedly defying the TRO.

Morales insisted that she can defy the CA ruling because the latter's order has already become moot and academic since Vice Mayor Romulo Peña has already sat as Acting Mayor.

"The intervention of the Court of Appeals has resulted in chaos and total confusion of the people of Makati and those transacting official business with the city government," Morales said.

She argued that the Ombudsman is an independent constitutional body which must be protected from the "unconstitutional interference" of the CA.

"[T]he preventive suspension imposed by the Office of the Ombudsman on respondent Binay is not only permissible under the law but necessary given the prevailing circumstances of the case. The suspension order was dictated by prudence and the need to preserve the integrity of the ongoing administrative adjudication," Morales said.

The Ombudsman argued that she is an impeachable officer and cannot be subjected to contempt proceedings, since it is criminal in nature.

"As an impeachable officer, petitioner can only be subjected to criminal proceedings after she steps down from office. Otherwise, the constitutional guarantee against her removal from office except through the extraordinary process of impeachment would be rendered nugatory," the petition said.

The six-month preventive suspension order issued by the Ombudsman against Binay and 22 others was for the plunder and graft cases filed against them in connection with the alleged overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2. (PNA/Sunnex)

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