Who is the legal mayor of Makati?
All did not end well, after all, with the issuance by the Court of Appeals of a 60-day temporary restraining order on the suspension of Makati Mayor Junjun Binay by the Ombudsman. It only made the situation in Makati more confusing and disorderly.
Why? Because the CA was too slow—for which our courts and aging justices are notorious—in issuing the TRO. It issued the TRO in the early afternoon of March 16. But by then, the Department of Interior and Local Government had served the suspension order and Vice Mayor Kid Peña had been sworn in as acting mayor.
Junjun refuses to surrender the mayoralty, naturally, and is holed up in his office in the 21st floor of the new City Hall. He says the TRO stopped the suspension and he remains the mayor of the country’s financial center. He continues to run the affairs of the city government, signing documents and withdrawing funds from banks to pay for City Hall expenses.
Acting Mayor Peña holds office in the headquarters of his motorbike group, and has also been signing documents and issuing orders. Which means there will be hell to pay when things are finally ironed out. There will be plenty of documents nullified and City Hall expenses disallowed.
Meanwhile, the Binay camp continues to attract protective crowds by providing free food, free movies and other forms of free entertainment. So that even if you do not love the Binays, and even if you are not a resident of Makati, you will be enticed to join the crowds around the new City Hall.
The DILG, on the other hand, continues to have its own crowd, a detachment of policemen surrounding the old City Hall where Acting Mayor Peña transacts business.
Meanwhile, lawyers of the two camps have come out with their own conflicting interpretations of what or who should prevail as a result of the TRO and the swearing in of an acting mayor.
Junjun’s lawyers say the TRO stopped the implementation of the suspension order and that he remains the mayor. On the other hand, lawyers on the side of the DILG (and they include Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales, a former associate justice of the Supreme Court) say the TRO came too late.
A TRO preserves the status quo, Secretary De Lima says. And what was the status quo when the TRO was issued? The suspension order had been served and Peña sworn in as the acting mayor.
The Binay camp disagrees: The TRO stopped the suspension and Junjun remains the legitimate mayor of Makati. It has filed charges of contempt of court against the DILG and police officials. And as usual, the CA justices are too slow in issuing a decision on this case.
How long will the circus in Makati go on while the justices take their own sweet time in resolving the issue? The people of Makati and business firms cannot transact business with City Hall because of the confusion. They do not know which mayor they should approach. If they go to the wrong mayor, their documents may eventually be nullified.
City Hall employees also do not know whose orders to follow. If they follow the wrong mayor, they would be a bad shot to the other.
And the banks are in a quandary. Whose signatures on withdrawal checks should they honor? They can lose millions of pesos if they make the wrong decision.
And what about the business establishments that cannot transact business with City Hall because of the confusion? They can lose hundreds of millions of pesos in unrealized income.
And which mayor will pay the salaries of City Hall employees? Of course, both sides will try to make the payments to earn their loyalty.
But what will happen when, later, the mayor from whom they accepted their salaries is declared illegal and they are told to refund the money which they had already spent? What if they accepted their salaries from both mayors and they had spent the money by the time the confusion is clarified?
The justices, both of the CA and the Supreme Court, should shake their aging bones and decide quickly to resolve the controversy before things get worse.
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If you are harassed by the controversies hounding the nation—the Mamasapano massacre and whether P-Noy should be faulted for it, the Bangsamoro Basic Law and what should be done with it, and now the circus in Makati—relax and laugh by watching Willie Nepomuceno’s latest show at the Music Museum tonight starting at 8:30 p.m.
Willie is guaranteed to banish the blues with his impersonations and skits poking fun at the rich and famous. He says Pope Francis will be at his show tonight to bless the audience and impart heaven-sent but down-to-earth words of wisdom. He will even agree to have a selfie with you.
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After 21 days jet-setting through Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, and nine other cities in Europe, Aliw awardee Margaux Salcedo will return to the Tap Room of the Manila Hotel on Wednesday, March 25.
Margaux’s dulcet voice, singing style and choice of songs are also guaranteed to chase the blues away. Forget Mamasapano, P-Noy and the Binays by listening to her at the Tap Room.
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