Can appeals court clip Ombudsman power?
In December of last year, the Ombudsman found Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia guilty of graft and corruption for the anomalous purchase of P50 million worth of furniture and fixtures back in 2009. He and eight others were meted out the penalty of dismissal and perpetual disqualification from public office. Leonardia has five plunder cases and more than 20 nonplunder cases still pending with the Ombudsman, but for years he seems to be so well-connected that he has evaded conviction in so many other graft complaints.
We thank Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales for her decision on Leonardia; she restored our faith in the Office of the Ombudsman. We are grateful as well to the Inquirer for allowing small voices like ours to see print on its pages.
However, just when we felt that the wheels of justice were finally grinding, the Court of Appeals in Cebu gave Leonardia a temporary restraining order (TRO) for 60 days and, recently, a writ of preliminary injunction. Leonardia made sure to save only his head from the chopping block, leaving the eight other accused to their fate.
Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, in his oral argument before the Supreme Court over the suspension of Mayor Jejomar Binay, said that “the Court of Appeals has no authority to issue Writ of Preliminary Injunction.”
The Court of Appeals’ act of shielding Leonardia and many others who availed themselves of the so-called “Aguinaldo Doctrine” is confusing, a sad reflection of how justice is being served in this country.
Does this mean now that the Ombudsman’s punitive powers will now always be clipped by the Court of Appeals? Will the Court of Appeals keep issuing TROs and injunctions to all cases that invoke the condonation doctrine? When will the Supreme Court finally give definitive clarity and wisdom to its so-called landmark Binay decision that supposedly put an end to the doctrine?
No wonder President Duterte expressed disgust with the justice system in our country and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales is up in arms against the Court of Appeals.
Leonardia’s acquisition of an injunction from the Court of Appeals is an insult to the Ombudsman and well-meaning citizens of our country who demand accountability and justice from corrupt government officials.
When will “real justice” finally prevail in Bacolod City?
SARAH TERESA ESGUERRA, Buena Park Subd., Barangay Villamonte, Bacolod City
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