The 6th Division of the Court of Appeals (CA) on Monday said no to moves to suspend hearings on a petition filed by Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. against his preventive suspension.
The CA division headed by Associate Justice Jose Reyes denied the Office of the Ombudsman’s move to halt the hearing as it cited judicial courtesy to an existing petition at the Supreme Court.
“It is the ruling of this court to proceed with the hearing,” the appellate court said.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales earlier questioned the CA’s issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO) against implementation of her order to preventively suspend Binay for six months.
Morales said the Court of Appeals committed grave abuse of discretion in issuing the restraining order.
During the first day of oral arguments on Monday, Assistant Solicitor General Hermes Ocampo said the CA hearing should be stopped pending resolution of the Office of the Ombudsman’s petition with the High Court against Binay’s petition.
“We filed a motion to suspend proceedings on the grounds of judicial courtesy, considering last week, March 25, respondent Ombudsman filed a petition for certiorari before the honorable Supreme Court,” he added.
“While the SC has not issued a TRO [temporary restraining order], we respectfully invoke the limited and qualified application of the doctrine of judicial courtesy,” Ocampo said.
Responding to the manifestation, Justice Francisco Acosta cited the ruling on the case of Fabian vs. Desierto in which the SC clearly empowered the CA with authority and jurisdiction to hear and decide on administrative cases.
“It is clear that unless a TRO or injunction is issued [by the SC], then the court is mandated to proceed with the principal case,” he said.
In denying Morales’ move to halt the hearing, Reyes of the CA 6th Division said, “I’m sure you don’t want us to be charged. Judicial courtesy applies only if there is strong probability that the issue will be rendered moot. The SC likewise ruled and said that the principle of judicial courtesy remains to be the exception than the rule.”
Binay’s counsel Claro Certeza cited the Aguinaldo doctrine in anchoring his position that the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension order was issued with grave abuse of discretion since the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2 had already been “condoned” by his constituents by virtue of his election to a second term in office.
There is no evidence to warrant the mayor’s preventive suspension.
“The Ombudsman is referring to the architectural design contract of the building.
considering that Phases 1 and 2 occurred, even before the mayor was elected, with more reason that the architectural design transpired during the period [when]he is not the mayor yet,” Certeza said.
Binay is accused f wrongdoing over the P2.3-billion Building 2.
The Aguinaldo doctrine pardons previous offenses of any local official.
Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon Gerard Mosquera said that under the Ombudsman Act of 1989, there is strong evidence to warrant the preventive suspension of Binay as part of the preliminary stage of a corruption investigation.
He added that condonation may not be invoked during the preliminary stage but only during a full-blown administrative proceeding or adjudication.
The CA is set to continue with the hearing on Tuesday on the indirect contempt charges against Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd for not honoring the temporary restraining order.