Ombuds suspends Ermita officials

By: Ador Vincent S. Mayol, Fe Marie Dumaboc January 19,2017 - 05:52 PM
A copy of the complaint filed by PDEA 7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz against Ermita barangay officials. (CDN PHOTO/ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL)

A copy of the complaint filed by PDEA 7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz against Ermita barangay officials. (CDN PHOTO/ADOR VINCENT S. MAYOL)

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

Finding factual and legal bases to do it, Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Paul Elmer Clemente temporarily strip the respondents of their power and responsibilities until the administrative adjudiciation on the case is completed, “but not to exceed six months without pay.”

Any delays caused by the respondents in the disposition of the case, he said, shall not be counted in computing the period of suspension.

“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.

The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) was directed by the anti-graft office to implement the preventive suspension order against the respondents.

The order arose from the administrative case for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service filed by Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency in Central Visayas (PDEA-7).

Ordered suspended by the anti-graft office were Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta and Barangay Councilors Marky Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghug and Wilbert Flores.

Clemente said there is a need to prevent the respondents from using their position, and the powers and prerogatives of their respective offices to influence potential witnesses or tamper with official records which may be vital in the prosecution of the case against them.

“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 PDEA-7 took place,” he said.

The complaints filed by Ruiz stemmed from alleged failure of the barangay officials to cooperate with PDEA-7 officers during a drug raid conducted last Nov. 6 in a “shabu tiangge” located just 500 meters away from the Barangay Hall of Ermita.

The raid yielded P800,000 worth of suspected shabu as well as the arrest of Richard “Tata” Cañete, who was suspected to maintain the alleged :shabu tiangge.”

According to Ruiz’s complaint-affidavit, the barangay officials allegedly refused to heed their request for the presence of the barangay captain and a barangay councilor to witness the search and inventory and to help them implement the search warrant against Cañete and Josephine Cuyno in the barangay.

Ruiz claimed that the barangay officials contacted did not arrive, which resulted in serious damage to the interest of the public and prosecution of the case and put at risk the lives of the operating team while they waited for the barangay officials to arrive.

Citing Republic Act 9165 or the Dangerous Drugs Act, Ruiz said that the barangay leaders play a key role in the criminal prosecution against illegal drug peddlers and that it is the duty of these officers to act as witnesses during conduct of physical inventory in antidrug operations.

“This is serves as a warning to other government officials who refuse to cooperate in our anti-illegal drugs operations,” he said.

DILG-7 Director Rene Burdeos said they are asking their central office in Manila to give them the clearance to implement the preventive suspension order against the respondents.

Since all barangay officials of Ermita were ordered suspended, he said the DILG will discuss with the Ombudsman on how it will be implemented.

“We have lots of option for now. We can suspend all the respondents together or it can be implemented by batches,” said Burdeos in an interview.

He said the DILG secretary can also appoint acting barangay officials in “caretaker capacity” and authorized by President Rodrigo Duterte.

“It remains to be seen on how the preventive suspension order will be implemented,” Burdeos said.

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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu City, Ermita, Ombudsman, suspension, suspension order, Visayas

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