The Court of Appeals (CA) has ordered Justice Secretary Leila De Lima to appear and answer the contempt raps filed against her by Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “JunJun” Binay.
In a two page Resolution dated April 28, 2015, the CA 6th Division has set the hearings on Monday and Tuesday, May 11 and 12.
Aside from De Lima, Vice Mayor Romulo Pena was likewise ordered to submit an explanation.
“Let the hearings of the petition for contempt, insofar as Sec. 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 resolution reads.
The resolution was signed by Justice Jose Reyes and concurred by Associate Justices Francisco Acosta and Eduardo Peralta.
The contempt case was filed after De Lima, DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales ignored the CA temporary restraining order last March 26, which stopped the preventive suspension order against Binay.
De Lima, Roxas and Morales have interpreted the TRO issued by the CA as having no force and effect. They said it should be considered moot and academic since Vice Mayor Pena has been sworn in as acting Makati mayor prior to the issuance of the TRO.
The defiance of the Ombudsman, DILG, De Lima and Pena prompted the Binay camp to ask the CA to cite them in contempt.
This caused the Ombudsman to elevate the case to the SC, but the high court refused to stop the CA and instead issued an injunction order against the petitioner.
The contempt raps against Roxas and Morales have been heard by the CA.
In the petition, the young Binay argued before the CA that the Office of the Ombudsman committed a grave abuse of discretion and violated his rights when it issued a suspension order on a mere corruption complaint lodged against him.
Binay argued that Morales “whimsically and capriciously disregarded and violated established laws and jurisprudence.” He said that he was suspended even without being asked to submit a counter affidavit.
Binay cited a high court jurisprudence saying that a mere signature or approval appearing on a document is not enough to sustain the charge of conspiracy among public officials and employees.
He said that the case filed against him before the Office of the Ombudsman is weak and does not warrant a preventive suspension.
The Mayor also pointed out that the accusation against him regarding the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II involved five construction phases.
He said that Phases I and II were undertaken before he was elected as mayor in 2010. Only Phases III to V were done during his first term as mayor from 2010-2013.
As to Phase III to V, Binay said that he cannot be held administratively liable because his re-election for a second term rendered the case against him moot and academic on the basis of the “Aguinaldo doctrine” of the SC that pardons previous offenses of any local official.
Binay also junked accusations of conspiracy saying there is no evidence to show that he had any prior knowledge of any irregularity, or that he intentionally participated in the planning, preparation or perpetration of the alleged conspiracy to defraud the Makati City government.