‘Acting mayor’ won’t yield despite pro-Binay CA ruling

Looks like Makati City will continue to have two mayors.

Vice Mayor Romulo Pena on Wednesday said he would continue with his duties as acting mayor pending the decision of the Supreme Court, where the Office of the Ombudsman has questioned the Court of Appeals ruling that blocked its suspension order on Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr.

Pena made this clear even after the CA’s issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction on Monday stopping the antigraft agency and the Department of the Interior and Local Government from enforcing the March 11 suspension order.

Speaking to reporters at his makeshift office inside the old city hall building, Pena said the Ombudsman and the DILG had yet to give him fresh directives following the latest CA ruling.

“I already consulted the Ombudsman and the DILG about it and I am still waiting for their directive,” Pena said, noting that the Ombudsman had earlier stated that it would wait for the Supreme Court decision. “Therefore, as far as I am concerned, up to the point that they will give me a directive, I will stay as acting mayor.”

Late last month, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales filed a petition in the high court against Binay’s plea in the CA that seeks to stop the six-month suspension order. The SC scheduled the oral arguments of the petition on April 14.

Pena said he would continue with his daily schedule as acting mayor, which includes making the rounds around the city distributing medicines and extending funeral assistance.

Asked if he will return to his post as vice mayor if the SC rules in Binay’s favor, Pena replied in the affirmative.

“We are after the welfare of the constituents and I do not want to be a hindrance. I just want to stand firm on what should really be the process,” he added.

Speaking on behalf of Binay, Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy said “I am just saddened that he (Pena) is still forcing himself on that position. He should stop misrepresenting himself as acting mayor now that the CA has clarified its ruling.”

Uy pointed out that the CA had ordered that the status quo be observed while it is hearing the case. “The CA has made it clear that ‘status quo’ means the state before the issuance of the suspension, which means Mayor Jun Binay was never suspended and Pena was never acting mayor,” she stressed.

Uy also echoed the Binay camp’s call on Pena for him to finally sign—as vice mayor—the payroll of about 150 employees under the Sangguniang Panlungsod and Office of the Vice Mayor.

Told of Uy’s remarks, Pena reiterated that it was no longer his duty as acting mayor to sign such documents. “Since I assumed (office) as acting mayor, the highest ranking city councilor should assume my post as vice mayor.”

He apologized to the city council and to staff members who were not able to receive their salaries on schedule due to the impasse.