The Police Regional Office in Central Visayas (PRO-7) will name the “mastermind” behind the killing of Ermita Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta before the year ends.
This, after Chief Supt. Jose Mario Espino, PRO-7 director, promised that they will file the case against the “mastermind” before the New Year.
“Di pa natin mapapangalanan ang mastermind. Pag file na lang ng case and I promise bago mag New Year,” Espino said during a press conference in PRO-7 headquarters in Cebu City yesterday.
(We cannot name yet the mastermind. Once we file the case then we can name the mastermind and I promise we will do it before the New Year)
While keeping mum on the identity of the mastermind, Espino has however indicated in earlier interviews that the killing of Rupinta could be related to work as barangay captain.
Rupinta has been involved in several controversies while running the affairs of Barangay Ermita, which has listed by the police as a drug hotspot.
Among them was his decision to label certain houses as “drug free,” leaving the public to wonder if those unlabeled houses could inversely be considered as drug dens or owned by those with links to the illegal drug trade.
Rupinta also got entangled with ambulant fish vendors operating in Carbon public market when the barangay decided to collect a fee from them, a move that was halted after City Hall said it has the sole authority to impose such fees.
While the family and colleagues of Rupinta were waiting for the update on the case, the slain barangay captain’s daughter, Efe Rupinta, took her oath as the newest member of the Ermita barangay council on Wednesday.
Efe, who took her oath of office before Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella at the latter’s office in City Hall, also revealed that her family would be calling a press conference today to announce a development in her father’s ambush-slay case.
Rupinta was driving his vehicle on his way home to a subdivision in Liloan town in northern Cebu with his partner, Jocelyn Mendoza, in the evening of November 23 when he was repeatedly shot by two men on board separate motorcycles as they were traversing the road in Barangay Tayud.
Rupinta was shot four times including one in the head, and died before reaching the hospital. Mendoza survived the incident.
Police have so far arrested two suspects — Jimmy Largo and Jordan Gera, both of whom were identified by witnesses as the alleged shooters. They denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty of the crime.
The two suspects are currently detained at the Cebu Provincial Detention and Rehabilitation Center (CPDRC) in Barangay Kalunasan, Cebu City.
Building a strong case
Espino assured the Rupinta family and the public that the police have been building a strong case against the mastermind.
He stressed the investigation has not been stalled even if Supt. Reynaldo Magdaluyo, the head of the Regional Special Operations Groups (RSOG-7) that has been investigating the case, was relieved from his post earlier this month.
“The relief of an officer will not affect the case. We still have investigators and the case folders. The case will progress based on the data we gathered,” he said.
He said it had taken them some time to wrap up the case since they needed to build an airtight case and ensure that all evidence and affidavits are completed.
“Di puwede natin ma file yung case na ganun-ganun lang. Naniniguro lang tayo. Mahirap mag file na hindi sigurado,” Espino added.
(We cannot file the case just like that. We should be sure of our case. We can’t afford to file a case that is not airtight)
Efe, 25 and the youngest child of the slain village chief, said it took her three weeks to decide to accept the position, realizing that joining politics would mean she would be in it for the long haul.
“Dili sayon-sayon sudlan nga mura rag pultahan mosud o mogawas raka dayon. Once nga mosulod ka sa politika dapat usa na imong huna-huna nga mao na gyud ang dalan imong lakwonon,” Efe said.
(It is not easy to enter politics, like you would enter a door and then exit from it just like that. Once you enter politics, you have to accept that it is going to be the path you want to walk on from now on)
Considering that she is still in her twenties, Efe admitted that she initially hesitated the offer of her father’s colleagues for her to take on the post in the barangay council, which became vacant after the village’s first councilman, Mark Miral, assumed as barangay captain following Rupinta’s death.
Efe, a business administration graduate from the University of San Jose-Recoletos and who is currently working in a business process outsourcing company in Cebu City, said she decided to accept the challenge as a way of continuing her father’s public service legacy.
Now that she has accepted the challenge, Efe said she is ready to face the risks and controversies involved in being in politics.
Right now, according to Efe, her focus would be to ensure that she is able to finish her father’s programs for Ermita.
Efe said that she is grateful that her family backs her decision.
She said that all her doubts about joining the Ermita barangay council diminished with the assurance that Labella and the Barug Team Rama party, to which her father belonged, would be there to help her navigate the local political scene.
“Tood man naa akong pamilya, naa ang mga konsehales, naa si Vice Mayor (Edgardo Labella) ug ang Team Rama nga andam mo paluyo sa akoa. So unsa pa akong gikahadlukan? So mao naman ni, so be it,” Efe said.
(As you can see, my family, the barangay council members, Vice Mayor Labella, and Team Rama are there to support me. So what is there to fear? So this is it, so be it)