BAGUIO CITY: Four Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justices have recused themselves from handling the controversial case of Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. against the Office of the Ombudsman.
SC Justice Francis Jardeleza, who earlier wrote the decision on the Binay suspension case, inhibited himself because he was a former Deputy Ombudsman for Luzon under the watch of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales.
Morales is the petitioner in the SC case seeking to halt the Court of Appeals (CA) 6th Division’s temporary retraining order (TRO) and injunction, which effectively stopped the Ombudsman’s office from implementing its suspension order against Binay.
With Jardeleza’s inhibition, the High Court will now look for a new lead justice who will study and write the decision on the brewing Ombudsman-Binay case.
The other justices who recused themselves were Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco and Associate Justice Arturo Brion.
Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta was the first magistrate to inhibit from the Binay case because his sister, Visha Peralta-Aldon, is a Makati City Hall department head.
This leaves the SC with 11 justices to rule on the Morales petition against the TRO and injunction order.
Recently, Morales suffered a setback after the High Court favored Binay by allowing the TRO to stand.
The SC, however, ordered Binay to lodge his comment.
The order came after the appellate court opined that the injunction order shall regain the previous status before Binay’s preventive suspension.
The SC’s decision not to stop the TRO from taking effect delivered a telling blow to Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd and Morales, who all ignored the TRO last March 26.
De Lima, Roxas and Morales chorused that the TRO has no force and effect, explaining that it should be considered moot and academic because Vice Mayor Romulo Pena has already been sworn in as acting mayor of Makati prior to issuance of the TRO in question.
The defiance displayed by the Ombudsman, Department of Interior and Local Government, de Lima and Pena prompted the Binay camp to petition the appellate court to cite them in contempt.
The Ombudsman, meanwhile, decided to elevate the case to the SC.