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Out of the picture

By: Editorial January 23,2017 - 11:09 PM


If barangay officials of Cebu City who were allied with either Team Rama or the Bando Osmeña-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) had any doubts about how serious the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs is, then the six-month preventive suspension imposed on all barangay officials of Barangay Ermita should put those misgivings to rest.

Ermita Barangay Chairman Felicisimo Rupinta and Barangay Councilmen Marky Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghug and Wilbert Flores were ordered suspended by the Ombudsman-Visayas pending the results of an administrative investigation against them.

While the officials filed a motion for reconsideration on their suspension, it’s unlikely the Ombudsman-Visayas will overturn their decision since the penalty is intended on the officials from unduly influencing the investigation into the complaint filed by the regional Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) against them.

Rupinta’s contention that the suspension is politically motivated stemmed from the fact that Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña publicly favored the appointment of Yogi Ruiz as PDEA-7 regional chief since he is reportedly a Cebuano, similar to his support to then Cebu City police chief Supt. Patrocinio Comendador.

That Rupinta contended that the drug raid at a shabu tiangge (flea market) occurred on a Sunday and on a date when a Manny Pacquiao fight was being televised doesn’t wash when one considers that the shabu tiangge was a short distance away from the Ermita Barangay Hall.

Do police operations requiring assistance from barangay officials have to be scheduled around Pacquiao’s fights or family days? Rupinta’s claims that he and his barangay officials were not remiss in their campaign against illegal drugs will have to be proven not only with eye witness accounts — which their ever loyal constituents can easily provide — but with actual documents and physical evidence as corroborated by police and PDEA records.

That’s difficult enough aside from them disproving the PDEA regional office’s claims that not one Barangay Ermita official volunteered to be at least present during the raid in order to certify that the operation was legitimate and in accordance with the law.

Barangay Ermita may not be as notorious as Duljo Fatima as far as the pervasiveness of the illegal drug trade in their area is concerned, but it is still identified as an illegal drug hotspot by both the city government and the PDEA regional office.

This unenviable distinction alone should have spurred Rupinta and his officials to work double time. With their incumbent barangay officials out for six months, the residents of Barangay Ermita will have to see if the illegal drug trade in their area would stop or if basic services to them such as garbage collection will suffer.

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TAGS: Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan, BOPK, Cebu, Cebu City, drugs, Ermita, illegal drugs, Michael Rama, politics, Rama, Team Rama

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