The National Bureau of Investigation in Central Visayas (NBI-7) has expressed willingness to step in and help the police in investigating the ambush-slay of Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta.
However, they will do so only if there is a formal request from concerned parties, said NBI-7 Director Patricio Bernales in an interview on Tuesday.
The Cebu City Council on Monday approved a resolution to request various law enforcement agencies, including the NBI, to look deeper into the murder of Rupinta, or for these agencies to form a task force that will focus solely on solving the barangay captain’s murder and haul to court those responsible for his death.
“There’s no problem at all if we are to step into the investigations. But we’re still waiting for the resolution (from the Cebu City Council), (and the) other files pertaining to the matter,” Bernales told Cebu Daily News.
“I’m sure everything will be laid down in the resolution, including the instructions. That is why we must wait for a copy of it to arrive in our office,” he added.
Cebu City Councilor Dave Tumulak, deputy mayor on police matters, said on Tuesday afternoon that they have yet to send a copy of the resolution to the NBI to make their request formal.
Bernales said solving the crime would be faster and more efficient if different law enforcement agencies participate in the investigation.
“Like any other cases, we acknowledge the importance of solving his (Rupinta) death as soon as possible so that it may bring justice to the bereaved, especially his family,” he said.
Aside from the NBI-7, the Cebu City Council also wanted the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group in Central Visayas (CIDG-7) to join the probe.
Senior Supt. Jonathan Cabal, chief of the Regional Intelligence Division (RID) of the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7), said they are willing to cooperate with the NBI and the CIDG-7 in trying to identify the persons behind Rupinta’s death.
“That is a welcome move,” he said, referring to the request of the City Council for the creation of a task force that will investigate Rupinta’s death.
The search for the mastermind
Rupinta was driving his vehicle on his way home with his common-law wife, Jocelyn Mendoza, in the evening of November 23 when he was waylaid and gunned down by unidentified assailants riding in two motorcycles while traversing the road in Barangay Tayud, Liloan town.
Rupinta, although he was the barangay captain of Ermita in Cebu City, actually lived and owned a house in a subdivision in Liloan town, some 15 kilometers north of the city. The ambush happened about 15 meters away from Rupinta’s residence.
Rupinta was shot four times, including one in the head, and died before reaching the hospital. Mendoza survived the incident.
The following night, police arrested Jimmy Largo, an ex-convict from Barangay Ermita who is now facing charges of murder, attempted murder, illegal possessions of firearms, explosives and dangerous drugs, and illegal use of dangerous drugs.
Seized from him were a 9mm submachine gun, a .45 caliber pistol, a fragmented hand grenade, two sachets of alleged shabu, and a motorcycle which had a defaced plate number.
Largo denied any participation in the crime. But he was positively identified by Mendoza as one of her husband’s assailants.
Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, director of PRO-7, on Monday said they already identified another gunman in the slay of Rupinta.
However, he refused to reveal the suspect’s identity while an investigation is being conducted.
Cabal said Largo could not be considered a state witness because the latter allegedly had a major participation in Rupinta’s death.
“He was identified as one of the gunmen by the other victim (Mendoza),” he said.
Police investigators also noticed a number of inconsistencies in Largo’s testimony.
Largo earlier claimed that he knew the mastermind but later changed his story.
Meanwhile, a stream of people continues to attend the wake of Rupinta as residents of Barangay Ermita and Rupinta’s colleagues in Barug Team Rama mourn his death.
Rupinta’s body lies in state at the Barangay Ermita gym since November 27, where he was transferred from the St. Peter Memorial Chapels on New Imus St.,
Barangay Lorega San Miguel, Cebu City, where the wake was first held.
Rupinta will be buried on December 9, but his family has yet to make a final decision on where his final resting place will be.
Rupinta will be replaced by Ermita’s number one councilman Mark Rizaldy Miral, who earlier said he will assume his post only after the slain barangay captain is laid to rest.