Cebu City village remains without officials after chief, 7 councilors meted 6-month preventive suspension

CEBU CITY-- The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) 7 on Saturday said Barangay Ermita in Cebu City has remained without officials after the Office of the Ombudsman for the Visayas placed its chief and seven councilors under a six-month preventive suspension for failure to assist an anti-drug operation.

Rene Burdeos, DILG 7 director, said he referred the suspension of Felicismo Rupinta, Ermita barangay captain and all seven councilors to their head office in Manila in the absence of existing law that would specify who shall take over a village in the event all its officials were suspended.

"This is the first an incident like this happened in Central Visayas. We believe it is the President who has the authority to choose persons whose appointment is not provided for by law," Burdeos said.

The Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas ordered the preventive suspension of all village officials of Ermita pending an investigation on their alleged failure to cooperate in a drug raid in the area last November 2016.

Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente temporarily stripped the respondents of their power and responsibilities until the administrative adjudication on the case was completed, "but not to exceed six months without pay."

"As the top barangay officials in Ermita, the continued stay by any of the respondents in office may prejudice the case filed against them," said Clemente in his order dated Jan. 16 but released to the media on Thursday afternoon.

Aside from Rupinta, suspended were Barangay Councilors Marky Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghug and Wilbert Flores.

"There exists the possibility of an unhampered access and undue influence by respondents to any potential witness to the case by virtue of their respective positions and their proximity to the area where the anti-drug operation conducted by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA) 7 took place," he said.

The suspension stemmed from the complaint filed by PDEA 7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz that the respondents didn't cooperate with the agency PDEA during the drug operation conducted last Nov. 6 in a "shabu tiangge," located just 500 meters away from the Barangay Hall of Ermita.

The raid yielded PHP800,000 worth of suspected shabu as well as the arrest of Richard CaAete, who was suspected to maintain the alleged "shabu tiangge."

But Rupinta filed Friday a motion for reconsideration on the order, saying it is "unfair and unjust" and there was no due process since they were not given an opportunity to answer the accusations against them. (PNA)

Source: Philippines information agency