Makati City Mayor suspended

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Location of Makati City within Metro Manila

Makati City (Philippines) Mayor Jejomar Binay, Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado and sixteen members of the city council were served a sixty day suspension order from performing their official tasks. The suspension order was issued by Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita and was served to Binay and the Makati officials by Labor and Employment Undersecretary Wencelito Andar on the morning of Tuesday.

Andanar was escorted by almost 700 members of the Philippine National Police who secured the perimeter access into the Makati City Hall.

Binay and his symphatizers started to hold their fort around the city hall on Monday night to prevent representatives from the Office of the President to serve the suspension order.

The local executives of Makati City were being suspended as preventive measures against possible tampering of evidence as the Philippines Ombudsman conducts an investigation on the alleged payment of wages to ghost employees.

Former Makati Vice Mayor Roberto Brillantes filed before the Ombudsman in late July 2006, a complaint stating that Binay was paying for wages of employees who were not existing.

Binay countered his former Vice Mayor's allegations in saying that he was not aware of any ghost employees since he was not the one signing the payroll of the city.

Binay also filed a Temporary Restraining Order before the Coourt of Appeals to prevent the Ombudsman to pursue its case against him, but the matter is still pending before the court.

Former President Corazon C. Aquino, a close ally of Binay called the suspension lacking in basis.

Aquino also denounced the Malacañan order as it failed to consider Binay's pending petition before the Court of Appeals for a temporary restraining order. Mrs. Aquino also challenged Malacañan to name all the ghost employees.

The Philippines House of Representatives Minority Leader Francis Escudero of Sorsogon province also denounced the order issued by Malacañan and called it an act targeting local elected leaders who are in the opposition.

Escudero cited the case of Pasay City mayor Wenceslao "Peewee" Trinidad who was also suspended for alleged illegal and over priced garbage collection for the city in August of 2006.

Escudero said that Trinidad, who is a vocal critic of the administration of President Gloria Arroyo is being punished like Binay.

The Minority Floor Leader also called the appointment of a non-elective official to run the city of Makati as a disrespectful to the people of Makati by being given a non-elected official to manage the city.

Rodolfo Feraren, the Director for the National Capital Region of the Department of Interior and Local Government was designated as care taker of the City of Makati during the 60-day period.

Press Secretary Ignacio Bunye called the Binay suspension order as part of due process and denied allegations that the move was a political vendetta against the opposition.