No TRO as Binay steps down
An expected long-drawn standoff at the Makati City Hall was abruptly cut short on Wednesday after Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. decided to step down and leave the seat of the nation’s financial district.
The sudden twist of events came after the 10th division of the Court of Appeals (CA) released a two-page resolution dated June 30 holding in abeyance the decision to act on Binay’s petition for an injunction pending the submission of comments by the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) and the mayor’s rejoinder to the comments.
The Ombudsman’s office and the DILG, which was tasked to enforce Binay’s preventive suspension for his alleged involvement in the science high school building project anomaly, were given a non-extendible period of 10 days to submit their comments on Binay’s allegations that his suspension was against the law.
The CA gave Binay five days to answer before the case is deemed submitted for resolution.
The situation was different from his first suspension in March where the standoff took several weeks before the CA handed down an injunction. The first suspension, which involves Binay’s alleged links to the overprice of the Makati City Hall Building 2 project, is pending with the Supreme Court.
Binay announced his decision to step down in a news conference in his City Hall office before he went down to the quadrangle to face his supporters.
In an emotional speech, the younger Binay–surrounded by his parents Vice President Jejomar Binay and former Makati Mayor Elenita Binay and siblings Nancy (a senator) and Mar-Len Abigail (a congresswoman)– said he made the decision in order to shield the people from further harm.
“Wala po tayong TRO. Hindi rin po dini-deny ang ating petisyon pero kailangan po nating galangin ang ating hukuman. Ito po ang lagi kong sinasabi, na kailangan po nating sundin kung ano ang kapasyahan ng hukuman [We don’t have a TRO. Our petition was neither denied but we have to respect the court. This is what I’ve always been saying that we have to follow the orders of the court),” the teary-eyed mayor said.
“Hindi ko na kayang tiisin na may masasaktan pa … kaya ako’y pansamantalang bababa sa aking puwesto. Pero hindi pa tapos ang laban [I cannot bear to see more people getting hurt… that’s why I’m temporarily stepping down, but the fight is not yet over],” Binay added.
After delivering his speech, the mayor turned to his father and embraced him tightly as the rest of his family as well as supporters wiped away their tears.
The family then boarded their cars and went straight home where another round of interviews with the media were held.
Malacañang welcomed Binay’s move, saying the action will ease tensions and prevent the outbreak of violence similar to what happened last Tuesday.
“It is important that public officials abide by the rule of law so that reason and order may prevail. We hope this will ease tensions and allow the full resumption of normal City Hall operations,” said Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr. in a text message to reporters.
Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda credited Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd for Binay’s unexpected move, stressing that it was Roxas who called on Binay to follow the rule of law.
“We welcome the decision of Mayor Junjun Binay to heed the call of Secretary Mar Roxas for the rule of law to prevail,” he said.
“Indeed, today is a good day for the rule of law and there is certainly no place for mob rule in modern civil society,” Lacierda added.
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, meanwhile, saw the situation as a positive development but regretted that it came only after violence had occurred (See related story).
“It’s a healthy development. It’s just too unfortunate that this move, belated alleged stepping down, had to occur only after alleged violence, cursing, intimidation and coercion took place,” she told reporters
Roxas thanked the mayor for making the decision.
“I’m happy that the rule of law prevailed. I thank Mayor Junjun Binay for heeding our call to follow the law,” he said in Filipino.
Respect the ‘acting mayor’
Acting Mayor Romulo Peña Jr. assured the people of Makati that delivery of basic services would go unimpeded as he warned city officials to recognize and respect his authority or face the consequences.
With JOEL M. SY EGCO, REINA TOLENTINO and BERNICE CAMILLE V. BAUZON