CA cancels Sabili suspension

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By Alvin Murcia

The Court of Appeals (CA) yesterday stopped the one-year suspension slapped by the Office of the Ombudsman against Lipa City Mayor Meynard Sabili.

The CA granted Sabili’s request for a 60-day temporary restraining order against what he called was one of the “midnight decisions” by the now-retired Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales before she ended her seven-year term last month.

The CA Special 4th Division, in a resolution issued 9 August 2018, directed respondent Teresita T. Pesa, the Office of the Ombudsman and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to stop the implementation of the suspension order against the mayor. Sabili was ordered to post a bond of P100,000.

“Wherefore, considering the issues raised in the petition and the possible repercussion on the people of Lipa, Batangas who will be affected by the suspension of their elective official, let a temporary restraining order be issued effective for 60 days unless sooner lifted by this court, enjoining and restraining respondent Teresita T. Pesa, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Department of Interior and Local Government and all persons acting under their authority and any of their representatives and/or agents from implementing, enforcing, and/or executing the assailed Ombudsman decision dated December 11, 2017, and OMB-L-A-16-0016 upon posting by the petitioners of a bond in the amount of P100-thousand each,” the resolution said.

CA Justice Franchito Diamante penned the order and was concurred by Justices Edwin Sorongon and Maria Elisa Sempio Diy.

The case was handled by Diamante after CA Justice Eduardo Peralta inhibited from the case. It was then re-raffled.

The resolution states that the basic purpose of the restraining order is to preserve the status quo until the hearing of the application for preliminary injunction.

“It is a preservative remedy for the protection of substantive rights and interests,” the resolution stated.

The respondent was also directed to lodge his comment on the petitioners application for the issuance of a writ of preliminary injunction and on the Petition for Review within an extendible period of 10 days from receipt.

This is the second suspension issued by Morales against Sabili as he was also suspended in 2016, but Sabili was also able to secure a TRO from the Supreme Court 2nd Division.
Sabili apparently was not in good terms with Senator Ralph Recto and his wife Batangas Rep. Vilma Santos Recto.

The suspension of Sabili in the present case was based on the complaint filed by former Lipa City Social Welfare Development Officer Teresita Pesa on 15 September 2010. Pesa was placed on “floating position” and transferred on a different assignment by Sabili.
Sabili said it was necessary to clean the ranks in the city hall and it is within his authority as mayor.

The midnight order was signed on 27 June 2018 by Morales 10-days before she stepped down as Ombudsman.

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