Another CA justice opts out of Binay case

The resolution of the second suspension case of Makati City Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. is expected to be further delayed after another magistrate of the Court of Appeals has recused himself from participating in its proceedings.

Associate Justice Franchito Diamante has been assigned as one of the two addition members of the CA’s Special 9th Division to   resolve Binay’s petition assailing his second suspension by the Office of the Ombudsman, in connection with the allegedly overpriced construction of the Makati Science High School building . 

However, Diamante opted to inhibit from the case since he is a member of the internal committee of the CA tasked to investigate the bribery allegations of Senator Antonio Trillanes against two fellow justices who handled   the first preventive suspension order of the Office of the Ombudsmanagainst Binay.  

Diamante was the fourth CA justice to inhibit from the case. The first three   were Associate Justices Celia Librea-Leagogo, Priscilla Baltazar—Padilla and Ramon Paul Hernando.  

Because of this development, a raffle was conducted yesterday where   Associate Justice Romero Barza was picked to take Diamante’s place in   the case.

The other magistrate to join the special division of five is Associate   Justice Socorro Inting.  

The CA division composed of Associate Justice Melchor Sadang, Amy

Lazaro-Javier and Rodil Zalameda failed to unanimously rule on the   case after casting a 2-1 vote, prompting the creation of a division of   five as required under the rules.

In a related development,   law experts called on the Supreme Court to now resolve the   case involving the first preventive suspension of Binay in connection   with the alleged anomaly in the City Hall Building 2.  

Former law deans Pacifico Agabin and Amado Valdez stressed the   importance of finally deciding on whether the CA indeed   has authority to restrain Ombudsman suspension orders – especiallywith the election season nearing.

The petition was filed by the Office of the Ombudsman contesting the   temporary restraining order issued by the Court of Appeals that   stopped Binay’s suspension.  

Both Agabin and Valdez agreed that the SC petition should be resolved   before Binay’s term ends next year.  

“If all pleadings have been submitted for resolution [then the   petition may be resolved already]. The case must be expedited because   the term is expiring,” said Valdez, former law dean at the University   of the East.

Agabin, for his part, said: “The SC can already resolve the case kahit doon sa aspect on the CA’s authority to stop the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension.”

Binay became Makati mayor in 2010, succeeding his father Jejomar   Binay, who ascended to the vice presidency. In 2013, the younger Binay   was re-elected, with his term supposedly ending in 2016.

Last March, his term was almost cut short after the Ombudsman   preventively suspended him over alleged overpricing in the   construction of the Makati City Hall Building II. The Department of   Interior and Local Government served the suspension order.

Binay sought relief from the appeals court, who eventually issued a   temporary restraining order in his favor, but only after Vice Mayor   Kid Peña was sworn in as Makati’s acting mayor.

Despite CA’s TRO, the DILG and the Ombudsman insisted that Binay was suspended and Peña was the acting mayor. The CA eventually issued an   injunction, clarifying that the status quo should be observed and that   Binay should remain in his post.

The CA’s TRO and injunction prompted the Ombudsman to seek the SC’s redress, saying the CA has no authority to stop the Ombudsman’s preventive suspension.

Asked what would be the implication if the SC fails to resolve the   case before May 2016, Valdez said: “If the SC decides later, the   decision will serve as precedent on future cases.”

The former UE dean also said the case should already de decided upon   because “the suspension of Junjun will be served anyway after six   months.”

Binay ended up vacating his post in July after the Ombudsman issued a   second preventive suspension, this time over the alleged overpricing   in the Makati City Science High School.

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