MANILA, Philippines - Despite the Office of the Ombudsman's order suspending him for six months without pay, a defiant Makati Mayor Jejomar Erwin "Junjun" Binay said he would continue serving as head of the city until he had exhausted all available remedies.
Besides the mayor, the Ombudsman also ordered the suspension of 21 other City Hall officials in connection with the irregularities in the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II.
"I will continue discharging my duties as mayor until all legal remedies have been respected. While I may belong to the opposition, I am still entitled to my rights like any Filipino citizen," said Binay in a press conference at Makati City Hall on Wednesday afternoon as his followers started massing outside preparing to dig in.
Binay said his legal counsels had filed a petition for certiorari in the Court of Appeals questioning the Ombudsman order.
Claro Certeza, a lawyer of the mayor, said Binay was asking for the issuance of a temporary restraining order (TRO).
"And we believe that until such time that our prayer for TRO is decided upon, they cannot remove Mayor Binay from his post as he is duly elected by hundreds and thousands of Makati residents," Certeza said.
Citing Section 27 of Republic Act No. 6770, or the Ombudsman Act of 1989, Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales said the resolution was "immediately executory."
"Notwithstanding any motion, appeal or petition that may be filed by respondents seeking relief from this order, unless otherwise ordered by this office or by any court of competent jurisdiction, the implementation of this order shall not be interrupted within the period prescribed," Morales said.
"In case of delay in the disposition of these cases due to the fault, negligence or any cause attributable to respondents, the period of such delay shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension," she added.
Morales ordered Interior Secretary Mar Roxas to promptly implement the order and inform her office of his compliance within five days.
If the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) implemented the order, the mayor would inform the department that there was the pending petition and a prayer for a TRO, according to Certeza.
Vice President Jejomar Binay, who was succeeded by his son as Makati mayor, was not suspended since he was not among those named respondents in the administrative cases filed by the Ombudsman special panel of investigators.
Morales signed the suspension order on Tuesday, but it was officially released to the public only on Wednesday.
The suspension order came just four days after the Ombudsman announced that it had approved the preliminary investigation against the Binays and their coaccused after its panel of special investigators filed cases for grave misconduct, serious dishonesty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service.
Wearing T-shirts with the text "I heart Junjun" and chanting "Binay!Binay!", about a thousand supporters of Binay from various barangays (villages) in Makati gathered at the City Hall quadrangle despite the pouring rain to express their disappointment with the Ombudsman's order that was released Wednesday.
They have set up tents outside City Hall where a programme was held until late afternoon.
The Binay supporters said they would stay overnight at the quadrangle. The mayor will also spend the night in his office on the 21st floor of City Hall, according to Makati spokesman Joey Salgado.