PHNO HEADLINE NEWS EARLY THIS PAST WEEK
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

PITIFUL POLITICS ONLY IN THE PHILIPPINES: 2 FLAG-RAISING CEREMONIES IN MAKATI BY WARRING MAYOR AND VICE MAYOR



PHNO NOW CRIES WITH SHAME: PLEASE, SOMEBODY STOP THIS SHAMEFUL, PITIFUL POLITICS!  Two mayors lead two flag ceremonies, each asserting that he is the legitimate head of the country’s richest city. As the standoff for the leadership of Makati City continued, Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and acting city mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña presided separate flag-raising ceremonies on Monday. Binay held the flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall quadrangle attended by city employees and hundreds of supporters, who camped out on the grounds overnight. They all wore black shirts. Senator Nancy Binay was also at the rites in support of her brother. Meanwhile, Peña’s supporters, all in white, attended the acting mayor’s first flag-raising ceremony at the Old City Hall, a stone’s throw away from where Binay and his supporters were. The messages on the shirts of Peña’s supporters included: “Saan Galing Ang Yaman?” (Where did the money come from) and “Thou Shall Not Steal,” in apparent reference to the Binay clan whose members face allegations of corruption before the Senate and the Office of the Ombudsman. Peña lauded his supporters for coming to his flag-raising rites “in short notice” to witness the “historic” ceremony. Later, his camp held a program during which some Makati residents pledged their support for the acting mayor. READ MORE...

ALSO: VP Binay slams ‘arrogance’ of DILG, DOJ


Vice President Jejomar Binay criticizes the arrogance of the executive department and the office of the Ombudsman for ignoring the TRO issued to his son Makati mayor Junjun Binay before participants of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ 15th National Lawyers Convention at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City on Friday, March 20, 2015. CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA
CEBU CITY, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay assailed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of the Ombudsman for their “stubborn display of political arrogance” when he spoke at a convention of lawyers here on Friday. The Vice President told members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) that the DILG, DOJ and the antigraft body brazenly ignored the order of the Court of Appeals (CA) that stopped the Ombudsman’s order to suspend his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, for six months. “Since when can an opinion and speculation overrule a court order?” Binay asked in his speech at the IBP national convention at a hotel here. READ MORE...

ALSO: DTI recognizes Binay Jr. as Makati mayor, inks pact with him for ‘Timbangan Ng Bayan’ project


DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba  Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the city government and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to undertake the implementation of the latter’s “Timbangan ng Bayan Project.”   According to DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba, who co-signed the MoA with Binay, the project involves the installation of weighing scales with housing in selected markets in key municipalities nationwide. “It is aimed at protecting consumers from unfair sales  practices so that they would get the best value for their money,” he said.
Dimagiba said they will be distributing 200 units of weighing scale in the National Capital Region, of which 12 have been allocated for Makati.
Also present at the MoA signing at city hall were over 20 local presidents of Makati Vendor’s Federation Inc., Makati Public Market  Operators/Administrators Association Inc., Makati Ayala Vendors  Association Inc. and Makati Vendors Inc. who called on Binay and formally presented their respective manifestos of support. The said organizations, representing over 1,000 vendors in various barangays in Makati, declared their “wholehearted support” for Binay as “the only legitimate mayor of the city.”  Asked by the media if the MoA signing meant that the DTI recognized him as the city mayor, Binay affirmed that there was no reason for the said government agency to do otherwise because there was no question about it. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO FROM MAIL ONLINE (LONDON NEWS):  Philippine financial capital in chaos as two mayors stand off


Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay (3rd R) is surrounded by his supporters and village chiefs at his office at the Makati City Hall in Manila's financial district on March 20, 2015 ©Noel Celis (AFP) 
The Philippines' financial capital Makati has been plunged into chaos with two politicians claiming to be mayor, forcing courts to close and delaying government business during a bitter stand-off triggered by graft claims.
Surrounded by hundreds of supporters, Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay has been holed up in city hall since the ombudsman suspended him last week because of its investigation into his alleged corrupt practices. Insisting the graft accusations are trumped up, Binay has refused to cede power to his deputy and rival, Romulo Pena, who insists he is now "acting mayor".

The power struggle is widely seen as a battle between the nation's ruling Liberal Party and main opposition. Binay is the son of opposition leader, Vice President Jejomar Binay, while Pena is a member of President Benigno Aquino's Liberal Party. Makati's courts closed for a day last week because of the crisis, and some judges have continued to postpone hearings to avoid the crush of Binay supporters outside the building, family spokesman Joey Salgado told AFP on Friday. He also warned there was a looming crisis over who had the authority to sign the city's cheques, while some welfare recipients said they did not receive their benefits on time. If banks do not honour cheques signed by Binay, street lamps and traffic lights will be shut down, taps in government buildings will run dry and garbage collection will stop, according to Salgado. "This is a very dangerous situation, if their (national government's) actions result in delays in salaries, utilities," he said. CONTINUE READING...

ALSO Makati conflict: Peña refuses to sign payrolls of Makati City dads, staff


The dispute between Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay and acting Mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña affected the transactions at the Makati City Hall. makati.gov.ph  Photo from Philstar 
The release of salaries and allowances of 17 city councilors of Makati and some 83 regular/co-terminus personnel under the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) for the period March 16 to 31 has been held in abeyance following the refusal of Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña to sign the corresponding checks for encashment. City Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy said the affected officials and employees may be in for a long wait since Peña has also returned unsigned the payrolls for their salaries for April 1 to 15. As vice mayor, Peña signs the payrolls and checks for the city councilors and their staff with regular/co-terminus status of employment. “We appeal to Vice Mayor Peña to consider the welfare of the employees. Why is he doing this when all along he has been saying he will not hamper the release of salaries to city hall employees?” Uy said. Meanwhile, some 8,000 city employees received their salaries yesterday after Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay signed the vouchers. READ MORE...

DeLima changes tune: Legal opinion not binding
(Recently, De Lima clarified that her legal opinion was merely an “advisory” and need not be obeyed by anyone.)


DE LIMA 
With the Court of Appeals having ordered Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, among other respondents, to respond to the contempt charges filed by Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay, it appears that De Lima has had a change of tune on her earlier insistence that her “legal opinion” lord over the CA’s temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the Ombuds-man from suspending Binay. She had earlier insisted that the TRO issued by the CA is not valid since the suspension order had already been posted, as well as Vice mayor, Romulo Peña, had already been sworn in as acting mayor prior to the CA’s TRO. Both the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which sought De Lima’s opinion, and Ombudsman Morales, also insisted on the legal opinion issued by De Lima, and refused to obey the CA’s TRO. Up until yesterday, Vice Mayor Peña has been assuming the role of acting mayor of Makati City, even holding a flag ceremony with his supporters as audience, while Binay held his own flag ceremony, with all the City officials with him, along with his supporters. Peña has even gone further, announcing that he would be naming a new treasurer and other officials to take the place of those who have also been suspended. Recently, De Lima clarified that her legal opinion was merely an “advisory” and need not be obeyed by anyone. In a press release issued from the Mayor’s office, it stated that the “camp of Makati Mayor Binay Jr. yesterday thanked Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for clarifying that her legal opinion on the issue about the Temporary Restraining Order on the mayor’s suspension order was merely “advisory” or was intended as an advice. READ MORE...

ALSO Junjun explains: Why VP Binay wants Mar as running-mate; No pun intended


MAR, VP BINAY 
MAKATI CITY - Mayor Junjun Binay clarified that there was no sarcasm, nor pun intended, when his father, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, said he is considering Secretary Mar Roxas as a possible running-mate in the 2016 presidential election.
"Ang naging sagot niya dun is that ah meron syang listahan ng mga taong pinagpipilian at ah kasama nga dun si Secretary Roxas. And the idea there is to unify this country," said Mayor Binay. He explained that the intent of the Vice-President is to unite this country and to avoid putting people in a compromising situation whenever politicians figure in a scuffle. He said that while he was not beside the Vice-President when the statement was made, he confirmed the name of Secretary Roxas is indeed part of his father's list of potential running-mates in the 2016 elections. "I believe that the Vice-President is serious in choosing a vice-presidential candidate, one who should be competent," the mayor said. READ MORE...

ALSO PHILSTAR OPINION: The tale of two mayors


Babe Romualdez 
The standoff that’s happening in Makati today is another clear indication that politics in this country has come to its lowest. The two “mayors” – Jejomar “Junjun” Binay and Romulo “Kid” Peña – are both asserting their authority with each one holding office a few meters away from each other, even leading separate flag raising ceremonies attended by their supporters yesterday. The impasse started when the Office of the Ombudsman issued a suspension order on Mayor Binay and other City Hall officials ostensibly to give authorities a free hand in investigating their supposed involvement in the allegedly overpriced new Makati City Hall building, with Peña sworn in as acting mayor on March 16. The Binay camp was able to secure a 60-day temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals but the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman all claim that the TRO came too late since Peña was already sworn in. Junjun Binay, however, asserts that the CA order overrules the suspension, with some legal minds also opining that the TRO precisely prevents the suspension from taking effect – which should render Peña swearing-in as acting mayor inutile.   But while the impasse continues, guess who ends up suffering the most? It’s the small people, in particular the city hall employees who are highly dependent on their salary but are very worried that they may not get it on time because the DILG wrote to the Land Bank of the Philippines that Junjun Binay was not authorized to sign disbursements, city government checks and other financial documents due to the six-month suspension order. In response, Binay also sent a letter to the LBP that the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order against the suspension. CONTINUE READING...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Binay, Peña hold separate flag-raising ceremonies in Makati


PATHETIC

MANILA, MARCH 23, 2015 (MANILA TIMES) Aries Joseph Hegina @inquirerdotnet 9:45 AM | Monday, March 23rd, 2015 - Two mayors lead two flag ceremonies, each asserting that he is the legitimate head of the country’s richest city.

As the standoff for the leadership of Makati City continued, Mayor Jejomar Erwin “Junjun” Binay Jr. and acting city mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña presided separate flag-raising ceremonies on Monday.

Binay held the flag-raising ceremony at the City Hall quadrangle attended by city employees and hundreds of supporters, who camped out on the grounds overnight. They all wore black shirts.

Senator Nancy Binay was also at the rites in support of her brother.

READ: Employees rally behind Junjun Binay

Meanwhile, Peña’s supporters, all in white, attended the acting mayor’s first flag-raising ceremony at the Old City Hall, a stone’s throw away from where Binay and his supporters were.

The messages on the shirts of Peña’s supporters included: “Saan Galing Ang Yaman?” (Where did the money come from) and “Thou Shall Not Steal,” in apparent reference to the Binay clan whose members face allegations of corruption before the Senate and the Office of the Ombudsman.

Peña lauded his supporters for coming to his flag-raising rites “in short notice” to witness the “historic” ceremony.

Later, his camp held a program during which some Makati residents pledged their support for the acting mayor.

READ MORE...
The standoff in the city stemmed from a March 11, 2015, order by the Office of the Ombudsman suspending Binay and other city hall officials for six months while they are investigated for their supposed involvement in the allegedly overpriced Makati City Hall Building 2.

The suspension order was served on March 16 by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) and Vice Mayor Peña was sworn in as the city’s acting mayor. Hours later, the Court of Appeals issued a 60-day restraining order on Binay’s suspension.

The DILG, Department of Justice and the Office of the Ombudsman insist on the legitimacy of Peña as acting mayor, saying the restraining order came “too late” and was thus moot and academic.

Binay, on the other hand, maintains that the court’s order overrules the suspension order.


INQUIRER

VP Binay slams ‘arrogance’ of DILG, DOJ Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Carmel Loise Matus | Inquirer Visayas 3:46 AM | Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Vice President Jejomar Binay criticizes the arrogance of the executive department and the office of the Ombudsman for ignoring the TRO issued to his son Makati mayor Junjun Binay before participants of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines’ 15th National Lawyers Convention at the Waterfront Hotel and Casino in Cebu City on Friday, March 20, 2015. CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA

CEBU CITY, Philippines—Vice President Jejomar Binay assailed the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG), Department of Justice (DOJ) and Office of the Ombudsman for their “stubborn display of political arrogance” when he spoke at a convention of lawyers here on Friday.

The Vice President told members of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) that the DILG, DOJ and the antigraft body brazenly ignored the order of the Court of Appeals (CA) that stopped the Ombudsman’s order to suspend his son, Makati Mayor Junjun Binay, for six months.

“Since when can an opinion and speculation overrule a court order?” Binay asked in his speech at the IBP national convention at a hotel here.

READ MORE...
“I am, indeed, thankful that all lawyers of note and legal experts, including our IBP president, have struck a blow for the rule of law by asserting the primacy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) over the unilateral interpretations of the two executive departments and the Ombudsman,” he said.

Justice Secretary Leila de Lima, whose opinion was sought by the DILG after it claimed to have enforced the Ombudsman’s decision to suspend Mayor Binay for six months, lashed out against critics who contended that the government’s position was without legal basis.

Dime a dozen opinions

“So-called expert opinions are a dime a dozen these days and that is but right because of the constitutionally enshrined freedom of speech,” De Lima said on Friday in a speech to a conference of the Rotary International District 3800 in Manila.

“But that doesn’t mean all these expert opinions are right, especially when they suggest that those who are legally mandated to actually render an expert opinion is wrong to do so,” she said.

Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said on March 17 that the preventive suspension order that she issued against the mayor had been served and implemented by the DILG before the appellate court issued the TRO.

The TRO “has become moot and academic as there is no more act to be restrained,” she said.

On March 11, Morales ordered the six-month preventive suspension of Mayor Binay and other Makati government officials who were facing an administrative case for the alleged overpricing of Makati City Hall Building II.

On March 16, the DILG posted the suspension order at Makati City Hall and administered the oath of office on Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña Jr. as acting mayor at 9:47 a.m. Hours later, Mayor Binay obtained the TRO.

Asked by the DILG about the matter, De Lima said the TRO was without legal force and effect because it was already moot as it came too late in the day.

Contempt charges

The Binay camp struck back by filing contempt charges against De Lima, Morales, Peña, Interior Secretary Mar Roxas and other DILG and police officials.

In his speech, the Vice President stressed the need for upholding the rule of law, “without which justice can never prevail nor the stability of the social order be preserved.”

“The rule of law provides predictability in the outcome of conflicts arising from transactions in commerce and industry. That is why upholding the rule of law is actually a prerequisite to progress,” he said.

The senior Binay was mayor of Makati when the contract to construct the Makati City Hall Building II was awarded to a favored contractor.

De Lima rebuts CA justice

Speaking at the IBP conference on Sunday, De Lima maintained her stand that the CA had no legal authority to stop the implementation of the preventive suspension of Mayor Binay.

De Lima reiterated that the TRO had been rendered “moot and academic” by the implementation of the suspension order on March 16.

She also cited Section 14 of Republic Act No. 6770, or The Ombudsman Act of 1989, which stated that “no writ of injunction shall be issued by any court to delay an investigation being conducted by the Ombudsman, unless there is a prima facie evidence that the subject matter of the investigation is outside the jurisdiction of the Office of the Ombudsman.”

This law opposed what was discussed by CA Associate Justice Magdangal de Leon, who spoke at the convention on the challenges of the appellate practice.

De Leon, a senior member of the appellate court’s Ninth Division, said the CA was prohibited from issuing TROs only on decisions or orders of the antigraft office. Since the case involving Binay was for a preventive suspension pending investigation, he said the appellate court could issue a TRO.

But De Lima, who heard De Leon’s talk, disagreed. “He was citing jurisprudence. But may I add because it seems to point only to final orders of the Ombudsman,” she told the participants at the start of her speech.

De Leon is not handling the contempt petition against the justice secretary.

De Lima then went on to cite the Ombdusman Act of 1989 that prohibited any court, including the CA, from issuing a TRO or an injunction to stop investigations conducted by the antigraft office.

“The essence of the provision is clearly to let the Ombudsman do its job. It has been difficult enough for the Ombudsman to hold powerful people accountable. Now, let us not make it more difficult by allowing court processes to derail its investigations,” she said.

In a news conference on Friday, Binay said ignoring the TRO was tantamount to mocking the court. “It is like they were saying the justices were dumb. It is unfair. It is clear that they are defying the rule of law.”–With a report from Jerome Aning in Manila


TRIBUNE

DTI recognizes Binay Jr. as Makati mayor, inks pact with him for ‘Timbangan’ project  Written by Tribune Wires  Tuesday, 24 March 2015 00:00


DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba

Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay yesterday signed a memorandum of agreement (MoA) between the city government and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) to undertake the implementation of the latter’s “Timbangan ng Bayan Project.”

According to DTI Undersecretary Victorio Mario Dimagiba, who co-signed the MoA with Binay, the project involves the installation of weighing scales with housing in selected markets in key municipalities nationwide. “It is aimed at protecting consumers from unfair sales practices so that they would get the best value for their money,” he said.

Dimagiba said they will be distributing 200 units of weighing scale in the National Capital Region, of which 12 have been allocated for Makati.

Also present at the MoA signing at city hall were over 20 local presidents of Makati Vendor’s Federation Inc., Makati Public Market Operators/Administrators Association Inc., Makati Ayala Vendors Association Inc. and Makati Vendors Inc. who called on Binay and formally presented their respective manifestos of support.

The said organizations, representing over 1,000 vendors in various barangays in Makati, declared their “wholehearted support” for Binay as “the only legitimate mayor of the city.”

Asked by the media if the MoA signing meant that the DTI recognized him as the city mayor, Binay affirmed that there was no reason for the said government agency to do otherwise because there was no question about it.

CONTINUE READING...
“We stand firm in the validity of the Temporary Restraining Order issued by the Court of Appeals. There should be no doubt that I am the mayor of Makati, which includes the Central Business District,” Binay said.

On statements made by Vice Mayor Kid Peña about his plans to appoint his own department heads, Binay said he could go ahead and do it at his own peril. “I have the full support of the city council and all the department heads recognize me as the mayor of Makati. If he appoints his own department heads, it will be another overt act of defying the court’s order that can make him liable for contempt,” he said.

The mayor also negated claims made by Peña’s camp that Land Bank of the Philippines has recognized the vice mayor as signatory in his place. “We are confident that the bank officials will continue to recognize the status quo. Otherwise, it would be another question-able action.

Let us wait for the ruling of the Court of Appeals hopefully this Monday, on the petition for contempt we filed against these people who until now persist in defying the court order,” he said.

Binay also slammed the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) for again overstepping its bounds by taking it upon themselves to prompt the Department of Finance into appointing a new city treasurer. “It should be the Ombudsman’s role to follow up the DoF on this matter, not the DILG.

Clearly we could see that Secretary Roxas is hell-bent on suspending Makati officials,” he said.

The mayor also confirmed receiving information that the other camp was recruiting fraternity members and residents in depressed communities to help them in forcibly getting inside city hall. “We cannot allow anarchy to rule here. We need to protect our ranks and ensure that nobody will get hurt,” he said.

“Again, I have a clear mandate from the people of Makati. I have a restraining order from the Court of Appeals. Let us respect the rule of law,” Binay said


FROM MAIL ONLINE, LONDON, UK

Philippine financial capital in chaos as two mayors stand off By Afp Published: 11:10 GMT, 20 March 2015 | Updated: 11:11 GMT, 20 March 2015 Published: 11:10 GMT, 20 March 2015 | Updated: 11:11 GMT, 20 March 2015


Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay (3rd R) is surrounded by his supporters and village chiefs at his office at the Makati City Hall in Manila's financial district on March 20, 2015 ©Noel Celis (AFP)

The Philippines' financial capital Makati has been plunged into chaos with two politicians claiming to be mayor, forcing courts to close and delaying government business during a bitter stand-off triggered by graft claims.

Surrounded by hundreds of supporters, Makati mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay has been holed up in city hall since the ombudsman suspended him last week because of its investigation into his alleged corrupt practices.

Insisting the graft accusations are trumped up, Binay has refused to cede power to his deputy and rival, Romulo Pena, who insists he is now "acting mayor".

The power struggle is widely seen as a battle between the nation's ruling Liberal Party and main opposition.

Binay is the son of opposition leader, Vice President Jejomar Binay, while Pena is a member of President Benigno Aquino's Liberal Party.

Makati's courts closed for a day last week because of the crisis, and some judges have continued to postpone hearings to avoid the crush of Binay supporters outside the building, family spokesman Joey Salgado told AFP on Friday.

He also warned there was a looming crisis over who had the authority to sign the city's cheques, while some welfare recipients said they did not receive their benefits on time.

If banks do not honour cheques signed by Binay, street lamps and traffic lights will be shut down, taps in government buildings will run dry and garbage collection will stop, according to Salgado.

"This is a very dangerous situation, if their (national government's) actions result in delays in salaries, utilities," he said.

CONTINUE READING...
"Any perception of instability would have an effect on the country. They are sending the wrong signal to investors. Makati is the financial centre of the country."

From an adjacent old building, with hallways that reek of leaking toilets, Pena issued a memorandum on Friday to all city hall employees asserting his authority.

"All ordinances, official documents and official actions must be submitted and referred to the undersigned for approval and/or appropriate action," Pena said, referring to himself.

Makati is the country's largest city in terms of revenue, with 11.9 billion pesos ($265 million) in earnings from taxes and fees in 2013, according to government data.

The city hosts the country's stock exchange, 82 embassies and consulates, 506 bank offices and 246 business process outsourcing and technology companies.

The stand-off appears likely to drag on for weeks, with the Binay family against the suspension but Pena continuing to receive the Aquino administration's support.

While the power struggle is unlikely to affect big business in the city in the short term, it could affect the Philippines' image as a safe investment destination, Richard Javad Heydarian, a political science professor at the De La Salle University in Manila, told AFP.

"Business can't be tied to political cycles," he said.

- Dynasty rule -

Binay's family has said the mayor's suspension is politically motivated as his father continues to dominate surveys to become the next president in 2016 elections, ahead of the Liberal Party's Interior Secretary Mar Roxas.

The Binays have ruled Makati since the restoration of democracy in 1986, endearing themselves to the masses with unparalleled benefits such as free college education, medicine, movies and birthday cakes.

The elder Binay capitalised on this populist theme to propel himself to the country's second highest post in 2010 and fortify a political dynasty that includes two other daughters elected to parliament.

True to the family's populist touch, the Binay's have attracted supporters to the vigil at the city hall grounds with film showings on giant screens and free Zumba lessons. Media have also been given free food.

Balloon salesman Errol Bonba waited outside Mayor Binay's office door on Friday, waiting for the chance to give him a statement of support from the city's disabled persons group.

"I hope this standoff won't delay the delivery of my dentures. It will give me confidence when dealing with my clients," the wheelchair-bound 52-year-old told AFP, flashing a toothless smile.


Makati Vice mayor Romulo Pena (2nd R) talks to police at his makeshift office at the old Makati City Hall, in Manila's financial district on March 20, 2015 ©Noel Celis (AFP)


Police are on standby to maintain peace at old Makati City Hall in Manila's financial district on March 20, 2015 ©Noel Celis (AFP)


Workers clean the glass of the Makati City Hall building in Manila's financial district on March 20, 2015 ©Noel Celis (AFP)


TRIBUNE

Makati conflict: Peña refuses to sign payrolls of Makati City dads, staff Written by Tribune Wires  Thursday, 26 March 2015 00:00


The dispute between Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay and acting Mayor Romulo "Kid" Peña affected the transactions at the Makati City Hall. makati.gov.ph  Photo from Philstar

The release of salaries and allowances of 17 city councilors of Makati and some 83 regular/co-terminus personnel under the Sangguniang Panlungsod (SP) for the period March 16 to 31 has been held in abeyance following the refusal of Vice Mayor Romulo “Kid” Peña to sign the corresponding checks for encashment.

City Councilor Marie Alethea Casal-Uy said the affected officials and employees may be in for a long wait since Peña has also returned unsigned the payrolls for their salaries for April 1 to 15.

As vice mayor, Peña signs the payrolls and checks for the city councilors and their staff with regular/co-terminus status of employment.

“We appeal to Vice Mayor Peña to consider the welfare of the employees. Why is he doing this when all along he has been saying he will not hamper the release of salaries to city hall employees?” Uy said.

Meanwhile, some 8,000 city employees received their salaries yesterday after Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay signed the vouchers.

READ MORE...
He also signed the vouchers for salaries this April.

Some employees under the Sangguniang Panlungsod expressed their dismay over the indefinite delay of their salaries, considering that besides the upcoming Lenten break next week, many of them have children set to graduate by end-March and this April.

“We are saddened that even our families are suffering because of the situation at city hall. This is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration, especially for parents like me whose children are about to graduate,” said Mila Pilar, one of the affected employees.

“We are hoping that the Vice Mayor will be enlightened soon so that our families need not suffer much longer from financial difficulties caused by the delay in the release of our salaries,” Pilar said.

Peña declined and returned unsigned two checks to the Treasury Department, one amounting to P927,545.20 for the salaries and PERA (Personnel Economic Relief Allowance) of the councilors and staff, and the other for P144,500 as representation allowance of the councilors.

Peña also refused to sign the payroll for the salaries of the officials and personnel covering April 1 to April 15 which amounts to P620,410.90 in net income.


TRIBUNE

DeLima changes tune: Legal opinion not binding Written by Pat C. Santos
Tuesday, 24 March 2015 00:00


DE LIMA

With the Court of Appeals having ordered Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales, Justice Secretary Leila de Lima and Interior Secretary Manuel “Mar” Roxas, among other respondents, to respond to the contempt charges filed by Makati City Mayor Junjun Binay, it appears that De Lima has had a change of tune on her earlier insistence that her “legal opinion” lord over the CA’s temporary restraining order (TRO) preventing the Ombuds-man from suspending Binay.

She had earlier insisted that the TRO issued by the CA is not valid since the suspension order had already been posted, as well as Vice mayor, Romulo Peña, had already been sworn in as acting mayor prior to the CA’s TRO.

Both the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), which sought De Lima’s opinion, and Ombudsman Morales, also insisted on the legal opinion issued by De Lima, and refused to obey the CA’s TRO.

Up until yesterday, Vice Mayor Peña has been assuming the role of acting mayor of Makati City, even holding a flag ceremony with his supporters as audience, while Binay held his own flag ceremony, with all the City officials with him, along with his supporters.

Peña has even gone further, announcing that he would be naming a new treasurer and other officials to take the place of those who have also been suspended.



Recently, De Lima clarified that her legal opinion was merely an “advisory” and need not be obeyed by anyone.

In a press release issued from the Mayor’s office, it stated that the “camp of Makati Mayor Binay Jr. yesterday thanked Department of Justice Secretary Leila De Lima for clarifying that her legal opinion on the issue about the Temporary Restraining Order on the mayor’s suspension order was merely “advisory” or was intended as an advice.

READ MORE...
In her statement published in the newspapers, De Lima said the legal opinion she had given should not be considered as a ruling that needs to be obeyed by everyone.

“It does not purport to adjudicate or bind anyone. It is an opinion. It is advisory in nature,” De Lima said.

Makati Councilor Mayeth Casal-Uy said there is no longer any reason for Secretary Roxas and Vice Mayor Peña to insist that he is the acting city mayor.

“Secretary De Lima has spoken. She was merely giving advice. It was just her opinion and so it does not change the ruling of the court,” Uy said.

“We are very thankful to Secretary De Lima for clarifying the issue. It is high time for the DILG to stop being obstinate and obey the court’s order. Only then would we have genuine peace here in Makati,” said the councilor.

Earlier, the two contesting mayors of Makati held their own separate flag raising ceremony yesterday as part of the regular event of every government offices in the land.

Majority of employees and thousands of supporters attended the flag raising ceremony presided by Mayor Binay held at the city hall quadrangle. They all wore black t-shirts.

Sen. Nancy Binay was present during the ceremony in support of her brother who has been slapped with a six month suspension from the office of the Ombudsman.

Acting Mayor Peña held his own flag raising at the old city hall building with only a handful of supporters who wore white t- shirts.

Meanwhile, Acting city administrator Vissia Marie Aldon said yesterday the city councilors, department heads and division chiefs of the city government of Makati have refused to accept an earlier memorandum of Vice Mayor Pena.

In his memorandum dated March 19, Peña informed city officials he has assumed the post of acting mayor and cited the move’s legal bases, including issuances from the DoJ, the Ombudsman, and the DILG.

Aldon said the different offices and departments of the city government will not heed Peña’s memo, including his directive for all city officials to submit to him for approval all city ordinances, official documents and official actions.


ABS-CBN

Junjun explains: Why VP Binay wants Mar as running-mate; No pun intended By Jorge Carino, ABS-CBN News Posted at 03/24/2015 3:11 PM


MAR, VP BINAY

MAKATI CITY - Mayor Junjun Binay clarified that there was no sarcasm, nor pun intended, when his father, Vice-President Jejomar Binay, said he is considering Secretary Mar Roxas as a possible running-mate in the 2016 presidential election.

"Ang naging sagot niya dun is that ah meron syang listahan ng mga taong pinagpipilian at ah kasama nga dun si Secretary Roxas. And the idea there is to unify this country," said Mayor Binay.

He explained that the intent of the Vice-President is to unite this country and to avoid putting people in a compromising situation whenever politicians figure in a scuffle.

He said that while he was not beside the Vice-President when the statement was made, he confirmed the name of Secretary Roxas is indeed part of his father's list of potential running-mates in the 2016 elections.

"I believe that the Vice-President is serious in choosing a vice-presidential candidate, one who should be competent," the mayor said.

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At present, Mayor Binay is in conflict with the Department of the Interior and Local Government after the Ombudsman ordered the preventive suspension of the mayor and other former and incumbent officials of the city.

The DILG installed Vice-Mayor Romulo "Kid" Pena as the Acting Mayor prior to the release of a Court of Appeals temporary restraining order that stopped the implementation of the Ombudsman order.

The situation resulted in a standoff between Binay and Pena and consequently caused disruption in services at the city hall.

"Ang payo ko ho sa DILG, sa pamumuno ni Secretary Mar Roxas, tigil na po natin to. Walang punto itong ginagawa nyo na to. Mismong si Secretary De Lima na nagsabi na opinyon lang binigay niya, it has no legal effect. It is only the courts who can render judgment," Binay said.

The mayor said he is open to a possibility of working with Roxas in the future, should the tandem between his father and the DILG secretary materialize for the 2016 presidential elections.

"Eh ano ba naman yung ah magkapatawaran dun sa ginawa para lang sa taong-bayan para at sa ikabubuti ng bayan natin," he said.

Quoting an old phrase, Binay said that in politics, there are no permanent friends, nor permanent enemies.

"Ang pulitika, sad to say, talagang walang permanenteng kaibigan, wala ring permanenteng kaaway. Pero kung ang pag-uusapan nga natin ay yung mas nakakataas na makakabuti para sa lahat, kailangan tayong magsakripisyo," he said.


PHILSTAR OPINION

The tale of two mayors SPYBITS By Babe G. Romualdez (The Philippine Star) | Updated March 24, 2015 - 12:00am


Babe G. Romualdez

The standoff that’s happening in Makati today is another clear indication that politics in this country has come to its lowest.

The two “mayors” – Jejomar “Junjun” Binay and Romulo “Kid” Peña – are both asserting their authority with each one holding office a few meters away from each other, even leading separate flag raising ceremonies attended by their supporters yesterday.

The impasse started when the Office of the Ombudsman issued a suspension order on Mayor Binay and other City Hall officials ostensibly to give authorities a free hand in investigating their supposed involvement in the allegedly overpriced new Makati City Hall building, with Peña sworn in as acting mayor on March 16. The Binay camp was able to secure a 60-day temporary restraining order from the Court of Appeals but the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG), the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Office of the Ombudsman all claim that the TRO came too late since Peña was already sworn in.

Junjun Binay, however, asserts that the CA order overrules the suspension, with some legal minds also opining that the TRO precisely prevents the suspension from taking effect – which should render Peña swearing-in as acting mayor inutile.

But while the impasse continues, guess who ends up suffering the most? It’s the small people, in particular the city hall employees who are highly dependent on their salary but are very worried that they may not get it on time because the DILG wrote to the Land Bank of the Philippines that Junjun Binay was not authorized to sign disbursements, city government checks and other financial documents due to the six-month suspension order. In response, Binay also sent a letter to the LBP that the Court of Appeals issued a temporary restraining order against the suspension.

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The confusing situation, because of the “two mayors,” is also paralyzing the delivery of services, for instance the processing of Yellow Cards for poor residents. Even businessmen are complaining because the approval of permits and licenses are also hindered, resulting in costly delays that could negatively impact the image of the city that’s known as the country’s financial hub.

It’s obvious that the situation in Makati has political undertones with Peña belonging to the Liberal Party, while Binay is with the United Nationalist Alliance. What’s happening is really a proxy war between LP and UNA with prospective candidates DILG Secretary Mar Roxas and vice president Jejomar Binay going head to head in the 2016 presidential elections.

Perhaps the Supreme Court should step in and decide with finality whether Binay’s suspension holds despite the TRO, so that everyone will know whether the “acting mayor” can legitimately dispense the functions of the mayor or not – at least for the next six months. There should be no double standard when it comes to the rule of law. Otherwise, investors might think we are a country that is inconsistent when it comes to observing the rule of law or worse, a country that does not observe the rule of law at all.

Lee Kuan Yew: The only successful dictator

The death of Lee Kuan Yew yesterday at the age of 91, six weeks after he was brought to the hospital due to pneumonia also marks the passing of a “true giant of history” as US President Barack Obama called him. Everyone knows how Lee transformed the tiny city-state into one of the most prosperous economies in the world today, known as one of the most corrupt-free and investment friendly destinations.

Students of history say it is quite remarkable how a seeming failure can result in outstanding triumph – referring to the decision of the Malaysian Parliament to expel Singapore from the Federation of Malaya in 1965, which gained Singapore its independence as a republic. It was a difficult time, with the fledgling republic faced with the challenge of establishing its own identity, creating jobs and encouraging economic activity while surrounded by potentially antagonistic neighbors.

What really got Lee going was his strict stance on discipline and the fact that he was not overly concerned with being popular or well liked. The secret to his success, as some describe it, is a benevolent dictatorship where he ruled with an iron hand – promoting social reform while abolishing juries (which he believed could be swayed by emotionalism) and detaining political opponents to maintain order.

The Singapore government also interfered in the way financial institutions were run, dictating on spending and investments. Education was given priority with particular focus on science to create a well-educated workforce that would be attractive to business investors. The result: a highly prosperous and economically strong nation that is now the envy of others including the Philippines. Lee had a great vision, and he planned every step of the way to turn this vision into reality. For sure, he will be remembered as the man who changed the way government is run – the only one among his contemporaries who emerged as a successful, and to a certain extent, a well-loved dictator.

Spy tidbit: Monica Lewinsky speaks against cyber-bullying

Seventeen years after becoming a household name for having an inappropriate relationship with then US president Bill Clinton, Monica Lewinsky has emerged from her shell and is doing the rounds speaking against the cyber-bullying she received even before the emergence of social media. Public shaming has become a blood sport, she said, denouncing the emergence of a marketplace where public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry where money is made as fast as the clicks one makes.

Like we always say, social media can be your great ally or your worst nightmare. It can make or break you, so remember to think before you click, and pause before you hit that send button.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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