Lessons from Brgy. Ermita officials’ suspension
Hopefully, the 6 months preventive suspension slapped on all elected officials of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City will serve them a lesson, although through the hard way. May this incident also serve as a warning to other barangay officials so that they will not go through the same fate with that of Ermita.
The DILG has finally implemented the order of the Office of the Ombudsman against Brgy. Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta, and councilors Mark Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghog, and Wilbert Flores.
Such order is in line with the case that the PDEA filed against the said officials for their failure to cooperate in an anti-drug operation in the said barangay. The Ombudsman put them under preventive suspension after finding that the evidence of guilt is strong.
This incident started when PDEA-7 led by Director Yogi Ruiz conducted a raid in Brgy. Ermita last year. As a result, they arrested 13 persons allegedly involved in drugs and they confiscated suspected shabu worth 800 thousand pesos.
As a matter of procedure, they invited the elected barangay officials to serve as witnesses during the inventory of the evidence that they had gathered. However, no single elected official allegedly cooperated. That prompted the PDEA to file the case before the Ombudsman.
Rupinta, however, denied the allegations of PDEA. He said that they were at the barangay hall at that time watching the boxing fight of Senator Manny Pacqiauo and that they did not know about the raid because none of the PDEA operatives informed them. He even speculates in his answers to the media interviews that politics is involved in his agony because, according to him, all of them are members of Team Rama.
With the different facts that the parties presented, the public is certain that one of them tells the truth and the other tells lies. The question is which of the two versions is more credible? Is it not a fact that PDEA agents enjoy the presumption of regularity, considering that they are doing their government function at that time?
Without suspecting the barangay officials of being drug protectors, however, the additional inevitable questions are: Why are there many drug addicts in Barangay Ermita? Does Capt. Rupinta know that RA 9165, otherwise known as the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act, is very technical? Does he know that during an inventory, the presence of barangay elected official is significant; otherwise, the case against the drug suspects may be dismissed?
If PDEA did not inform them, does it mean to say that PDEA agents want their efforts to become useless? Granting arguendo, does it mean to say that none of their constituents bothered to inform the barangay officials? Does this mean that no one knew the raid when there were 13 persons handcuffed at that time? Would it not create something unusual in the barangay scene, especially in Ermita where houses are compact? Or did they intentionally not assist the PDEA because they know the technicality of the law?
We can try to believe the version of the barangay officials. But that’s all we can do — try! Why? Because their version is contrary to human experience; specifically, for us to believe that there was no stir in the barangay during the raid is contrary to barangay experience. In the barangay, almost everyone reports to the barangay hall about practically everything, including a raid. Do they continue to insist of their innocence of the raid when it happened at the back of the barangay hall?
On the other point of Rupinta that politics was behind the suspension, I think it’s far-fetched. The Ombudsman has sufficient basis in its decision and the DILG is just implementing the said order.
So when does politics in this controversy possibly come in? I think when DILG, which has the authority to appoint the replacements of the vacancy being temporary, allows other people to do their supposed duty. Hopefully this will not trigger to another hard lessons.
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