Junjun Binay steps down from Makati city hall

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr "temporarily" stepped down from city hall on Wednesday morning, July 1, following the Court of Appeals decision to hold in abeyance its action on his petition for a temporary restraining order (TRO) on his suspension order.

"Ako ay pansamantalang lilisan sa munisipyo (I am temporarily leaving city hall)," Binay told hundreds of his supporters, who had spent the last two nights keeping vigil at the city hall after the Ombudsman issued his suspension order.

He added, "Hindi ko kayang tiisin na meron pang masaktan, na tayo ay binibigyan ng karahasan sa ating lungsod (I cannot endure seeing any one of you getting hurt, as we are being met by violence in our city)." 

Over the past two days, his supporters had clashed with police as they attempted to enter the city hall building. When officials of the interior department posted Binay's suspension order Tuesday morning, the mayor's supporters threw chairs and bottles in a bid to stop them. (READ: Mayor Binay, supporters should be charged – De Lima)

Binay was with his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, on stage at the city hall quadrangle on Wednesday. They hugged each after the suspended mayor delivered his statement. 

He remained defiant, however, and urged his supporters to "continue the fight."

"Hindi dito natatapos ang laban natin. Hindi namin kayo iiwan. Masakit man, kailangan nating gawin (This is not the end of our battle. We're not abandoning you. Much as it pains me, it has to be done)," he said.

Binay said he would have to await the CA ruling on his petition against his second suspension order, which he filed on Monday – the same day the Ombudsman ordered his suspension over graft allegations in connection with the alleged overpriced Makati Science High School building.

Return to normalcy

In a statement, Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II thanked Binay for heeding the call for him to respect the suspension order. (READ: Roxas to Junjun Binay: 'Makati is not your kingdom')

Masaya akong nanaig at nangibabaw ang batas sa araw na ito. Nagpapasalamat ako kay Mayor Junjun Binay sa pagtugon sa aming panawagan na sundin ang batas. Makakaasa po kayo na magbabalik na sa normal ang operasyon ng Makati City Hall at magpapatuloy na ang pagbibigay ng serbisyo sa mamamayan ng Makati,” he said.

(I am happy that the rule of law won today. I thank Mayor Junjun Binay for heeding our call to follow the law. You can expect the resumption of normal operations at Makati City Hall and the delivery of services to the people of Makati.)

In Malacañang, Presidential Spokesman Edwin Lacierda said, “Indeed, today is a good day for the Rule of Law and there is certainly no place for mob rule in modern civil society.” 

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said in a news briefing that Binay's decision is a "healthy development" but he could have done it earlier. 

CA resolution

In its resolution, the CA's Tenth Division said, “Action on the application for TRO/WPI is held in abeyance pending receipt of the parties’ pleadings."

The resolution was promulgated on Tuesday, June 30, but released to the public on Wednesday.

It added that "without necessarily giving due course to the petition," the respondents – the Ombudsman and the Department of the Interior and Local Government – are required to file their comment on Binay's petition against his suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman.

The respondents have to comment on the petition within 10 days from notice, while the petitioner may reply within 5 days from receipt of the respondents' comment. 

Makati Vice Mayor Romulo Peña was sworn in as acting mayor on Tuesday.

Early Wednesday, police put the city hall on lockdown after receiving reports of a security threat in the area.

Tensions erupted anew after some city hall employees, frustrated at not being able to go to work, tried to enter the building, closely followed by Binay's supporters.

Superintendent Eufrenio Obong told reporters in an interview before Binay's announcement that no one was allowed to enter since 7:30 am and will remain closed until further notice.

"We are here to maintain peace and order," Obong added. – Rappler.com