Pena ‘vice’ again, ending Makati impasse—for now

The leadership impasse at Makati City Hall that stemmed from the legal actions hounding Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. over corruption allegations appears to have ended—at least for now.

Almost a month after taking his oath as acting mayor, Romulo Pena on Wednesday returned to his office as vice mayor as instructed by the Office of the Ombudsman. He received the directive Tuesday afternoon through the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), he said.

Speaking to reporters at his 20th floor office, Pena said he had finally signed the delayed payrolls of some 150 employees under the council and the vice’s mayor’s office. He also served notice to Binay and other officials that he would “respect the authority of the judiciary.”

He was apparently referring to the latest Court of Appeals (CA) ruling on the Ombudsman’s March 11 suspension order on the mayor.

“The important thing is that I was able to do what was mandated of me and the people of Makati also accepted me in a good way,” said Pena.

The CA last week issued a writ of preliminary injunction indefinitely extending the restraining order it earlier issued on the suspension. The Ombudsman is investigating Binay and 20 other officials in connection with the allegedly overpriced P2.7-billion Makati City Hall Building II.

Late last month, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales asked the Supreme Court to nullify Binay’s plea questioning the suspension at the CA. The high tribunal began hearing oral arguments on the matter on Wednesday.