With the fall of the alleged assailants of Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta, the family and colleagues of the murdered village chief are now more eager in finding the mastermind.
Rupinta’s daughter, Efe, said that although their family was glad that the Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) has arrested the alleged gunmen, they still want the “mastermind” to be arrested.
“Di mi gusto nga ang nagpusil lang. Gusto namo nga madakpan na ang mastermind,” Efe said on Sunday.
(We cannot be satisfied with just the shooters. We want the mastermind to be arrested.)
The same desire was also expressed by Cebu City’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC) and other village officials as they signed yesterday a manifesto condemning the ambush-slay of Rupinta in Liloan town on November 23.
Councilor Philip Zafra, the barangay captain of Tisa who sits in the City Council as president of the city’s ABC, said they will submit the manifesto to the Liga ng mga Barangay sa Pilipinas to seek the latter’s support in their call for a speedy investigation into the killing of Rupinta.
At least 50 barangay and city government officials gathered in a restaurant in Barangay Lahug on Sunday to sign the manifesto.
“Gusto usab namo nga ma-unmask na ug mahubuan na sa identity ang gasugo, ang mastermind kay mao karon ang nalipay sa kamatayon ni Kap Imok kay na-accomplish iyang sugo,” stressed Zafra.
(We also want the mastermind to be unmasked because we know that person is so happy right now since his order to kill Captain Imok was accomplished.)
Rupinta was ambushed and killed on the evening of November 23 in Barangay Tayud, Liloan, some 15 kilometers north of Cebu City, while he was on his way to his house in a suburban housing enclave in the town with his common-law wife, Jocelyn Mendoza.
Barely 24 hours after he was killed, a resident in Rupinta’s Barangay Ermita in Cebu City, a fish vendor identified as Jimmy Largo, was arrested. Largo was positively identified by Mendoza as one of Rupinta’s alleged shooters.
Last Friday, December 1, PRO-7 investigators also arrested Jordan Gera, another fish vendor, in his residence in Consolacion town, north Cebu. He was identified by witnesses as the second gunman who was with Largo when the ambush happened in Barangay Tayud.
The police have yet to reveal the motive behind the killing, but the family and some colleagues of Rupinta believed his killing was related to politics.
Efe said that she strongly believed that the mastermind behind the killing of his father is somebody involved in politics in their barangay.
“My father’s life turned chaotic when he entered politics,” Efe lamented.
Despite what happened to her father, Efe said she would want to continue the best practices and programs of his father as a village chief of one of Cebu City’s densely populated barangays.
Efe, who is still in her mid-twenties, admitted she would want to enter politics in the future, if given a chance.
At this time, she said, she and her family could only hold on to the hope that the police would solve the murder of their father and ensure that the mastermind is caught.
Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, PRO-7 director, has earlier indicated that the police already have pinpointed the mastermind, but it was still too early to reveal the person’s identity.
According to Espino, Rupinta’s killing was related to his work as barangay captain.
Zafra, on the other hand, also believed that the killing of Rupinta was related to politics and his work as a village chief.
It was because of this belief that they decided to send their manifesto to the Liga, he added.
“We also seek the support of the rest of the Liga from all over the country kay kami, even ako personally, nagtoo gyud ko nga work-related gyud ni,” Zafra said.
(We also seek the support of the rest of the members of the Liga from all over the country because even I personally believe that what happened to Rupinta was work-related.)
“We (barangay captains) really put our lives on the line of service. Subo lang pamanlandungon nga among passion of public service ing ani ang resulta
(It is just sad that our passion for public service will result in the killing of our colleague),” Zafra added.
Meanwhile, residents of Ermita continue to troop to the barangay complex to attend the wake of Rupinta.
Rupinta, 62, will be laid to rest on December 8 at the Queen City Memorial Garden in A. Soriano Avenue, Cebu City, after a 1 p.m. funeral Mass at the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Parish-Recoletos on Magallanes St. corner Leon Kilat St. in Barangay Ermita.
Arrest was legal
Meanwhile, PRO-7 maintained that the arrest of Gera was legally done and still under a hot pursuit operation.
The Commission on Human Rights in Central Visayas (CHR-7) raised concerns over the validity of the warrantless arrest made on Gera as it was done beyond 48 hours, the period within which such an arrest could be effected.
Lawyer Ehdel Perreira of the Philippine National Police’s Regional Legal Service in Central Visayas (RLS-7) said the police did not violate any law in arresting Gera.
“As far as the police are concerned, they are performing their duties. They (CHR and other lawyers) are entitled to their own opinion,” Perreira added.
Chief. Insp. Emmanuel Gomez, Regional Special Operations Group (RSOG-7) deputy chief and one of the operatives who arrested Gera, also maintained that they arrested Gera in a hot pursuit operation since the suspect was identified by witnesses and by the victim.
He said the arrest of Gera was part of their continuous follow-up operations against the suspects in the killing of Rupinta.
“We arrested Gera after he and his motorcycle was positively identified by Jocelyn Mendoza,” Gomez said.
Gomez said they hoped that instead of criticisms, the public and the other concerned personalities would instead show support to the police’s effort to give justice to the slain village chief. /with Correspondent Benjie B. Talisic