MANILA – The Supreme Court Third Division has junked the petition of former Makati City Mayor Elenita Binay questioning her inclusion as respondent in a graft case in connection with the purchase of allegedly overpriced hospital beds and bedside cabinets in 2001.
Binay is one of 16 Makati officials facing a graft charge before the Sandiganbayan over the P36-million payment to a supplier who promised to provide US-made beds and cabinets to Ospital ng Makati.
The Commission on Audit found that the purchase did not go through public bidding and the beds and cabinets were actually made in Taiwan worth only P2.5 million.
While she was not included in the initial 15 respondents indicted by the Overall Deputy Ombudsman, the Office of the Special Prosecutor recommended her inclusion citing her “extensive and active participation” in the procurement as local chief executive.
At the time, Binay, wife of former Vice President and long-time Makati Mayor Jejomar Binay, was the city's chief executive.
Binay questioned the Ombudsman’s ruling before the high court.
In a decision dated August 18, the SC said Binay could not seek the reversal of the Ombudsman’s ruling on a petition for certiorari because mere disagreement with the Ombudsman’s findings does not constitute grave abuse of discretion, the basis for overturning a tribunal, board or officer’s ruling.
“This Court will not interfere with the Office of the Ombudsman’s determination of probable cause except when it acted with grave abuse of discretion,” read the decision.
It also said there were no violations of Binay’s rights to due process and to speedy trial.
Binay had claimed she did not receive copies of the motions for reconsideration questioning her initial exclusion from the case but the SC pointed out she was given the opportunity to contest the ruling.
The high court also said the Ombudsman, Special Prosecutor and the Sandiganbayan, all named respondents to her petition, were able to explain the delay in the resolution of the complaints.
Supreme Court Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, Andres Reyes, Jr., Ramon Paul Hernando and Henri Jean Paul Inting concurred in the ponencia written by Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.
Binay's lawyer Sandra Olasco-Coronel said they would file a motion for reconsideration on the basis of finality of judgement.
"What we questioned before the SC is the revival of the charge against Dra. Elenita Binay in relation to the Ospital ng Makati. Imagine, the complaint against Dra. Binay was earlier dismissed by Ombudsmen then, on MR filed by other respondents who were charged in court, was reinstated against her," she said in a statement.