FORMER Sen. Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. on Wednesday urged all the parties involved in the six-month suspension of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. to respect the decision of the Court of Appeals (CA).
The 6th Division of the CA on Monday granted Binay’s petition for a 60-day temporary restraining order (TRO) stopping the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) from implementing Binay’s preventive suspension over corruption allegations.
Binay, 37, and several incumbent and former City Hall officials were linked to the allegedly overpriced contract covering the construction of the Makati City Hall Building 2. The building project started during the term of the mayor’s father, now Vice President Jejomar Binay, whom he succeeded in 2010.
“The rule of law should be upheld at all times,” Pimentel said. “And that’s the objective of Mayor Binay, to maintain the status quo until the courts determine whose argument is right. Meantime, they might as well follow the TRO,” he added.
Pimentel was a long-time partymate of Vice President Binay in the PDP-Laban and were together in the so-called “parliament of the streets” during the dark days of martial law. The former senator, who as President Corazon Aquino’s minister of local government appointed the elder Binay as OIC-mayor of the municipality of Makati in place of Mayor Nemesio Yabut who died in office at the height of the People Power revolution in 1986.
Justice Secretary Leila del Lima, meanwhile, reiterated her position that the TRO issued by the CA was already “moot and academic” paving the way for Makati City Vice Mayor Romulo Peña to assume the post of acting mayor.
She said the TRO in fact preserved the effectivity of Peña’s oath, which he took about an hour after the DILG served Binay’s suspension last Monday.
“As far as we in the DOJ [Department of Justice] is concerned, it’s very clear that the TRO has become moot and academic. The status quo that the TRO sought to preserve at the time the CA issued its ruling was Vice Mayor’s Peña’s oath as acting mayor. That is the status quo, that is the situation now,” de Lima told reporters.
Peña has since set up a “Mayor’s Office” at the old municipal hall along J.P. Rizal.
He clarified that he was not engaging in a power grab and is just following orders for him to take over as mayor.
“I didn’t ask for this. Under my designation, if the mayor is out, I take over the post. If things get settled, I will hand them back the seat of power. I’m not here to grab power,” Pena said.
Mayor Binay, who has been holed up in his 21st floor office at the new City Hall building since last week, convened the Makati Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council and presided over an emergency meeting in preparation for the arrival of tropical storm Betty.
“We are here to work, trabaho lang [to do our job],” he said.
The mayor explained that his administration has been following protocol, and appealed to Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd to do the same.
“My humble appeal to Secretary Roxas and members of the Liberal Party is to stop this type of dirty politics,” Binay said.
He assured Makati’s constituents that he remains in office and will continue to discharge his functions as mayor, including signing of official documents pertaining to transactions of the city government.