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The ‘harassment’ of Jojo Binay

/ 02:00 AM September 27, 2014

Last week’s column (“A premature campaign speech” is the title it was assigned) must have touched a raw nerve somewhere, judging from the number, at last count, of comments (612) and shares—21.3k on Facebook and 21.9k in the inquirer.net website. There were some lively conversations in the comments section, and some very valuable suggestions.

A letter was received by the Readers’ Advocate of this newspaper, from Prof. Epictetus Patalinghug, saying that I had made an “incorrect statement” and “fumbled dramatically” in the column. The statement pointed out was:

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“According to him, two administrations (Arroyo’s and who else?) tried to silence him during his 28 years in public service, but he was not cowed. Oh, the other administration must be Marcos, but Binay wasn’t in public service, or at least in public office, then. But it sounds good anyway.”

Gee. I didn’t know who the second administration was, and made a guess. That guess was wrong. The second administration that “harassed” Mayor Jojo Binay was the Ramos administration, through then Interior Secretary Raffy Alunan, who suspended the good mayor.

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I immediately googled “Binay, Alunan” and “Alunan suspends Binay” and got zilch. So I called Alunan. He recalled that he suspended Vice Mayor Arturo Yabut (under Binay), among other local government officials, but he couldn’t remember suspending Binay (“I would remember if I suspended him”).

So I wrote Patalinghug and asked him if he could give me some references. He sent me a link—a report in the Manila Standard on April 29, 1995, by one Angelo Lanuza. And sure enough, the report was titled “High court stops Binay suspension.”

Aha! From the news item, it wasn’t Alunan who suspended Binay, it was the Sandiganbayan. Alunan was merely carrying out the Sandigan’s orders (so where is the “harassment” of the Ramos administration?). The case/s? “Multimillion graft charges” against Binay and Robert Chang (the city treasurer).

What is interesting is the report’s statement that during the oral arguments, there were some “relatively unusual ‘friendly’ interpellations from the three-man division, particularly from Associate Justice Flerida Ruth Romero, an ally of Binay’s and of his counsel, former senator Rene Saguisag, during the Aquino presidency.”

But I am grateful for Patalinghug’s complaint, because I got interested in this so-called “harassment” case against Jojo Binay by the Ramos administration. Inaapi ba si Binay? So I googled Sandiganbayan, Binay, and out pops a Supreme Court decision, circa 1999, on the case brought by Binay against the antigraft court (third division) and the Department of Interior and Local Government. Here’s what I gathered:

On Sept. 7, 1994: The Office of the Ombudsman (OO) files three separate sets of information against Binay, one for illegal use of public funds, and two for violation of 3e of the Antigraft and Corrupt Practices Act (undue injury to government or unwarranted benefits to private parties).

Binay moves to quash the information, because the charges were filed with the OO in 1988 and the OO filed only in 1994—thus violating his right to due process. Everything is held in abeyance while this is being resolved.

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March 29,1995: The Sandiganbayan (SB) denies Binay’s motion to quash. His motion for reconsideration is opposed by the prosecution. The SB denies the motion, but the resolution is issued before Binay can file a reply to the prosecution’s opposition.

March 31, 1995: The prosecution files a motion to suspend the accused pendente lite(pending the litigation).

April 25, 1995: The SB grants the motion and orders Binay’s suspension for 90 days. Binay goes to the Supreme Court, claiming he was denied due process when the SB ordered his suspension before he could file a reply to the prosecution’s opposition to his motion for reconsideration.

April 28, 1995: The Supreme Court orders the SB to, among other things, permit Binay to file his reply. This is the basis of the Manila Standard report earlier mentioned.

June 6, 1995: The SB, after allowing and considering Binay’s reply to the opposition, denies his motion for reconsideration of the motion to quash. It issues another resolution, reiterating the order suspending Binay pendente lite.

June 13, 1995: Binay files a motion at the SB to refer his cases to the “proper court.” Why? He claims the SB lost jurisdiction when it made its June 6 resolution because a new law, Republic Act No. 7975, passed on May 16, 1995, redefines its jurisdiction. The proper court, he claims, is the Makati Regional Trial Court. (Oh, boy.)

July 4, 1995: The SB denies Binay’s motion, giving its reasons.

July 7, 1995: Binay files a case with the Supreme Court questioning the SB’s jurisdiction and asking it to annul, or set aside, all its previous decisions. He also asks the high court to issue a temporary restraining order on his suspension and arraignment.

July 7, 1995: The Supreme Court grants the TRO. (Wow! Fast!)

July 14, 1995: Binay also asks the high court (addendum to petition), if it decides that the SB has jurisdiction over the cases, to dismiss the criminal charges against him because the long delay of preliminary investigation has deprived him of his right to due process, and moreover, there was no probable cause to warrant the filing of the information.

Oct. 1, 1999: The Supreme Court rules that the SB has jurisdiction. It does not mention the addendum to petition.

So, the high court wasn’t talking about the merits of the case at all. Binay was doing everything for the case not to get heard. Inaapi ba si Binay? Does anyone want to research on this? And on a list of 38 cases purporting to have been filed against Binay and/or his wife between 1990 and 2008? Legal students or lawyers, preferably. For more information, e-mail me at [email protected]

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TAGS: Get Real, Jejomar Binay, opinion, Solita Collas-Monsod
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