Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales and Justice Secretary Leila de Lima separately asserted on Tuesday that the temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals (CA) stopping the implementation of the six-month preventive suspension of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. came too late.
They said the TRO has become moot and academic.
Morales, a Supreme Court justice before she was named Ombudsman, said “there is no more act to be restrained” while de Lima, in a four-page legal opinion, said the TRO is “without legal force and effect.”
“A temporary restraining order, by its very nature, and definition, seeks to restrain the commission of a future act, or an act yet to be performed but threatened to be performed by the respondent in the case,” De Lima, who issued the legal opinion at the request of the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), which served the suspension order against Binay.
Morales, in a statement, said she found the dispositive portion of the CA resolution “silent” on what the TRO seeks to restrain.
She took note of the practice of local government officials facing suspension of using their supporters to thwart the execution of lawful orders.
In the statement, she denounced the “alarming practice of suspended public officials encouraging the massing of people who obstruct or hinder the proper exercise of the functions of the Office.”
The Ombudsman and the Justice secretary’s opinions echoed the position of the DILG), which on Monday insisted that Binay’s suspension has been carried out and is considered served.
The department now recognizes Vice Mayor Romulo Peña as the city’s acting mayor.
But Binay also on Tuesday insisted that he remains the Makati mayor even as he criticized the DILG for also insisting on its own interpretation of the law instead of seeking clarification from the court.
In a news briefing, he urged Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas 2nd to respect the TRO.
“Secretary Mar Roxas himself had said that no one is above the law. I hope he would be true to his words. If the DILG has questions, [it]must seek the answers from the court, not resort to [its]own interpretation,” Binay said.
According to the 37-year-old mayor, the situation at City Hall where his supporters have pitched camp since the announcement of his suspension last Wednesday should have reverted to normal.
But, he said, the DILG’s actions, particularly the deployment of hundreds of policemen, “have unduly put the city in a quasi-martial law state.”
Binay accused the Interior department of defying the will of the people of Makati.
“I was overwhelmingly elected by the people as their mayor in the last elections. Let us respect their will. We cannot allow the interest of a few individuals to prevail over the mandate given to me by our constituents,” he said.
“I am the mayor of Makati, and I will see to it that our constituents will not be deprived of the services and benefits they deserve from their government,” Binay added.