MANILA (Mabuhay) – A day after the Court of Appeals (CA) concluded its hearing on embattled Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay’s petition to have her cited in contempt for “defying” the appellate court’s temporary restraining order (TRO) on his preventive suspension, Justice Secretary Leila De Lima reiterated her position that Binay’s move has no basis.
Speaking to reporters at the Department of Justice (DOJ) on Wednesday, De Lima said she merely issued a legal opinion after having been asked by the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), the agency tasked by the Office of the Ombudsman to serve the 6-month preventive suspension order on Binay.
“Hindi namin maintindihan kung bakit kailangan pa kami ipa-contempt, lalo na on my part. Hiningi po opinyon ko, yung guidance ko, ng DILG because they were faced with a serious situation na may dalawang mayors, may dalawang opisyal na nag-aact ngayon as mayors [of Makati] na insofar as the DILG is concerned, na-implement na nila yung preventive suspension order ng Ombudsman bago natanggap yung TRO ng Court of Appeals,” De Lima said.
The justice chief said that while her legal opinion has a “persuasive effect,” it is not binding with the appellate court.
She also stressed that she merely performed her role as government’s principal lawyer after her opinion was sought by another agency under the Executive department.
“I also cannot be restrained from rendering my opinion… because I’m the principal lawyer of the Executive department… tama lang na humingi ng guidance ang another department from the principal law agency of government which is DOJ. So I rendered my opinion and it so happened na pareho kami ng posisyon ng Ombudsman,” De Lima said.
Both De Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales are of the view that the CA’s TRO came too late since it was issued after the suspension order was served on Binay, and Makati Vice-Mayor Romulo Peña had already taken his oath as acting mayor.
The appellate court gave De Lima 3 days to submit her comment on Binay’s petition. This, after it was found that she was not served with the court’s March 20 order for her to submit her position prior to the conduct of the oral arguments on Tuesday.
Binay’s preventive suspension is in connection with an ongoing investigation being conducted by the anti-graft office against him; his father, Vice-President Jejomar Binay; and several others in connection with the allegedly anomalous P2.7 billion Makati City Hall Building 2. (MNS)