(Dr. Jose Gonzales. Photo courtesy of Dr. Iggy Igbayani)
The ousted Director of the University of the Philippines (U.P.) Philippine General Hospital (PGH) Dr. Jose Gonzales has won his appeal for a preliminary injunction for the Quezon City Regional Trial Court (RTC) No. 84 to return him as PGH Director after his removal was ordered by the U.P. Board of Regents last February 25, 2010 (see: http://diliman-diary.blogspot.com/2010/02/day-of-long-knives.html).
The judge assigned to the case, Judge Luisito Cortez of QCRTC Branch 84 today ordered the incumbent PGH Director, Dr. Eric Domingo to cease and desist from holding office and for Dr. Gonzales to resume his duties as PGH Director. Judge Cortez also ordered the U.P. Board of Regents (BOR) to recognize Dr. Gonzales as PGH Director, according to Faculty Regent Judy M. Taguiwalo.
(Dr. Eric Domingo. Photo
However, strictly speaking this does not necessarily mean that Dr. Gonzales is in the clear yet.
According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preliminary_injunction), a preliminary injunction, in equity, is an injunction entered by a court prior to a final determination of the merits of a legal case, in order to restrain a party from going forward with a course of conduct or compelling a party to continue with a course of conduct until the case has been decided.
If the case is decided against the party that has been enjoined, then the injunction will usually be made permanent. If the case is decided in favor of the party that has been enjoined, the injunction will usually be dissolved or dismissed.
In most courts the party seeking the preliminary injunction must demonstrate all four things together:
- That there is a substantial likelihood of success on the merits of the case,
- That they face a substantial threat of irreparable damage or injury if the injunction is not granted,
- That the balance of harms weighs in favor of the party seeking the preliminary injunction
- That the grant of an injunction would serve the public interest.
This time, time may no longer be on the side of Dr. Domingo, as the composition of the BOR has already significantly changed in terms of voting numbers which was originally in favour of Dr. Domingo from the BOR which voted to install him last February 27, 2010.
Three of the Malacañang "midnight" regents who voted for Dr. Domingo - the late former Supreme Court Associate Justice Abraham Sarmiento, former Regent Nelia Gonzales and former Regent Francis Chua were replaced with new appointees by President Benigno S. Aquino III last November 17, 2010. The new appointees are: former College of Business Administration (CBA) Dean Dr. Magdaleno Albarracin, Jr., former Chief Justice Reynato Puno and director-actress Ms. Bibeth Orteza-Siguion Reyna.
Six votes are needed to carry the day in any BOR decision. U.P. President-elect Alfredo E. Pascual is known to be a supporter of Dr. Gonzales. Two of the Sectoral Regents - Staff Regent Clodualdo "Buboy" Cabrera and Student Regent Jaque Eroles - are expected to continue the sectoral regents support for Dr. Gonzales. Alumni Regent Gladys Tiongco is a known supporter of President-elect Pascual. Meantime Ms. Oreta-Siguion Reyna is a member of Phi Delta Alpha Sorority and is known to be supportive of Dr. Gonzales.
The fact that Ms. Orteza-Siguion Reyna is a sorority sister of former Chief Justice Puno, who belongs to Alpha Phi Beta Fraternity does not exactly hurt. However, former Chief Justice Puno is expected to give great weight to the quality of judicial reasoning of Judge Cortez. Assuming he finds the reasoning unobjectionable, there is a high probability that the BOR will have at least six out of the eleven votes needed for U.P. to decide to comply with the Judge's order instead of fighting it.
Additionally, U.P. President-elect Pascual's term does not begin until February 10, 2011 while Faculty Regent Judy Taguiwalo's term ends by December of this year to be replaced by U.P. Los Baños Professor Ida Dalmatio whose voting sentiment on this issue is still unknown. The next BOR meeting is on January 17, 2011 which means that supporters of Dr. Domingo within the BOR may still mount an attempt to fight the case in court.
However, as soon as U.P. President-elect Pascual takes over the reins from outgoing U.P. President Emerlinda R. Roman, he can simply opt to get BOR backing to immediately comply with the court order with the requisite number of votes on his side on this particular issue.
Meantime, Dr. Iggy Agbayani, spokeperson of Ibalik ang Tama sa U.P.-PGH said in his Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/notes/iggy-agbayani/dec-23-2010-icing-on-the-cake-for-ibalik-ang-tama-sa-up-pgh/484055364639) that "Today Dr. Jose Gonzales received a letter from the Q.C. court ordering the BOR to recognize Dr. Jose Gonzales as PGH Director. This is the injunction being sought by Jogon’s lawyers over the past eight months. He will now sit as PGH Director until the court’s final verdict of who the real PGH Director should be. The news is sweet victory for the many supporters of Jogon from the UP-PGH community and UP alumni. It is now very likely that Jogon will finish his term as Director until the end 2012."
"On a personal note and as a member of the Laban UP-PGH movement I consider this a very important victory for our cause and a sign of good things yet come. The battle to bring back good against near insurmountable odds was full of ups and downs. There were times when we had to question our resolve and rethink whether our sacrifices are worth it. We have been warned by family and real friends to stay away or be careful for our own sake. There had been a prevailing atmosphere of cynicism, apathy and even hopelessness in PGH and this is perhaps a reflection of our society in general. The average PGH doctor is practical and just goes by what is the prevailing credo or political weather no matter how immoral this may be."
"This has however resulted in most University and hospital leaders being chosen for their ability to tow the line and present themselves as lackeys to those who may bring them political positions of power or career opportunities. Matters of integrity, honesty and fair play took a back seat and we saw this quite clearly during our saga to bring back what is right. We never wavered though in our belief and that no matter what we had to do the right thing. Jogon needed help and when a good man asks for help and with all the right reasons and cause you don’t ever turn down a good man. I personally felt that there will be few opportunities in our life when we are asked to make a stand and this was one of them and damn me to eternal guilt if I chose to sit this one out."
"Those in the Laban UP-PGH movement headed and supported by Drs. Jonas del Rosario, Manny Agulto, Bill Romero, Abe Marinduque, Randy Abdullah, Gap Legaspi, Jojo Castillo, Chuck Chuachiaco, Ted Herbosa, Marge Lat-Luna, Agnes Mejia, Andro Fernandez, Joey Lapena, Mr. Alikabok, BJay Pasco, JF Guttierez, Ardynne Mallari, Gerald Abesamis, the Phi Alumni, the Phi International and the students of the Phi Kappa Mu Fraternity could not squander this chance to be decent human beings. We all understood that Jogon is a victim and also a symbol."
(Reporting by Chanda Shahani)