Mayoral mayhem: Binay or Peña?

(CNN Philippines) — The Philippines' top financial center was in a state of confusion Tuesday, as Vice Mayor Romulo Peña appeared to take control of the city following the suspension of incumbent Mayor Jejomar Erwin Binay Jr. amid graft allegations.

But Binay appeared reluctant to stand down, insisting that the Court of Appeals already issued a freeze on the suspension order issued by the Office of the Ombudsman.

On Monday afternoon (March 16) the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) insisted in a statement that Peña was acting mayor.

This was hours after it served the suspension order against him and several other city officials.

Actually, Rene Brion, National Capital Region (NCR) director of the DILG, tried to serve the suspension order personally to Binay at 8:24 a.m. But security personnel kept him from entering the Makati City Hall.

So he posted the order in front of the building — "in full public view."

Shortly after that, Peña took his oath as acting mayor.

On the other hand, Binay insists that he's still in charge because the Court of Appeals issued — on the same day — a temporary restraining order against his suspension.

Holed up

The court ruling should prevail, Binay said on Monday.

On Tuesday, he was still holed up at city hall, along with his supporters.

The police officers, under the command of Senior Supt. Elmer Jamias, also remained at the complex, saying they would not leave until ordered by the DILG.

Jamias said the PNP recognizes Jamias as the acting mayor.

In reaction, Binay said: "Ang nakakalungkot parang mayroong martial law dito [What's sad is that there seems to be martial law here]."

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He also hit at Interior Secretary Manuel Roxas II, saying: "Pinapalabas ni Roxas na mas mataas siya sa Court of Appeals. Hindi lang ito simpleng defiance sa ruling ng CA [Roxas is making it appear that he's higher than the Court of Appeals. This is not a case of simple defiance of the CA ruling]."

TRO came too late

But in its statement the day before, the DILG said the court order arrived too late: "The order of the Ombudsman has already been carried out; hence, there is nothing to restrain. In fact Vice Mayor Romulo Peña already took his oath at 9:47 a.m."

The statement added: "In view of these conflicting orders, we will refer this matter to Secretary of Justice Leila de Lima for her opinion. We continue to assure the public that our primary concerns are upholding the law, the continued delivery of services to the people of Makati, and preserving peace and order."

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For his part, Binay said he was planning on filing contempt charges against the DILG, along with some officials of the Philippine National Police who had deployed 200 officers at city hall to keep order among Binay's supporters who had gathered there.

The graft complaint against Binay, along with his father, Vice President Jejomar Binay, and other city officials, was filed in July 2014 by lawyer July last year by lawyer Renato Bondal.

Bondal, a former political ally of the Binays, accused them of conspiring in overpricing the construction of the Makati City Hall Building II by P862 million.

Former Vice Mayor Ernesto Mercado – who was an ally of Vice President Jejomar Binay, the mayor's father – has also testified on the issue at several hearings conducted by the Senate Blue Ribbon Subcommittee, which is chaired by Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III.

CNN Philippines' Joyce Ilas and Miguel Ortilla contributed to this report.