PALACE REFUSAL TO ENFORCE OMBUDSMAN ORDER SUSPENDING NERI ANOTHER CASE OF SELECTIVE JUSTICE – BINAY

PRESS RELEASE
12 SEPTEMBER 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) Jejomar C. Binay today described Malacanang’s refusal to enforce the six month suspension imposed by the Ombudsman on Social Security System (SSS) Administrator Romulo Neri as another example of the “selective administration of justice” under the Arroyo administration.

Binay said had Neri belonged to the opposition, policemen would have been sent to his office to serve the order. Neri was former chief of the National Economic Development Authority (NEDA) and is a key figure in the NBN-ZTE Broadband controversy.

“This is clearly an administration that chooses to apply the law selectively. It chooses to look the other way and even refuses to comply with orders in cases involving Palace personalities and allies,” he said.

The Makati mayor recalled that when he was unjustly ordered suspended by the Ombudsman in 2007, just a few days before the May election, hundreds of policemen in full combat gear stormed City Hall to enforce the order even after office hours.

The policemen carried high-powered firearms, and even broke the glass doors of the City Hall, which was then already closed. A ranking police official even verbally abused councilors and other city officials who rushed back to City Hall.

In subsequent hearings, it was learned that the Ombudsman issued the suspension order based on an unverified complaint. Binay had described the order as unlawful and politically motivated, similar to an earlier suspension order from Malacanang in October 2006 which he defied.

“Neri was spared the Gestapo-like tactics because he kept his mouth shut and refused to tell the Senate what he knows about the role of Mrs. Arroyo in the scandalous NBN-ZTE Broadband deal. That is the only thing that is keeping him safe,” he said.

Binay said Malacanang’s refusal to enforce the Ombudsman order further reinforces public perception that the Arroyo administration abuses its authority and considers itself beyond public scrutiny.

Earlier, Binay said Mrs. Arroyo’s conduct and performance is subject to public scrutiny because she is a public official, following an appeal from Malacanang for the opposition to spare her from criticisms.

“Mrs. Arroyo is no exception. Malacanang should not consider her as someone who is above public scrutiny,” he said.

Binay said Mrs. Arroyo’s track record would be a central issue in the 2010 election.

“When we talk of Mrs. Arroyo’s track record, we talk about the fact that the number of poor and hungry Filipinos increased during her eight years in power. And during those years, government resources have been used injudiciously, human rights violations increased exponentially, and ranking government officials, including Mrs. Arroyo herself, have been linked to numerous scandals,” he said.

“The public would definitely view the candidates for the 2010 election with Mrs. Arroyo’s track record as their point of reference. They are surely looking for national leaders who are the direct opposite of Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.

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