Labella to barangay captains: Be calm

By: Jose Santino S. Bunachita March 09,2017 - 10:49 PM
Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman (left) and Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Yolandito Cagang  CDN PHOTO/JUNJIE MENDOZA

Apas Barangay Captain Ramil Ayuman (left) and Basak Pardo Barangay Captain Yolandito Cagang

ACTING Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella yesterday urged the seven officials indicted for refusing to return their city-issued vehicles last year to remain calm and instead appeal their case before the courts.

In an interview, Labella said that Barangay Captains Ramil Ayuman (Apas), Philip Zafra (Tisa), Lemar Alcover (Sambag 1), Ana Tabal (Tagbao), Rosalita Callino (Buot), Yolandito Cagang (Basak Pardo) and Cebu City Councilor Joel Garganera, former barangay captain of Tinago, could file a motion for determination of probable cause before the Metropolitan Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) where the cases had been filed.

The seven officials, all members of Team Rama, were indicted by the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office for violation of Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code (RPC) for their alleged failure to make delivery of public property.

Labella, a lawyer and a former director of the Office of the Ombudsman Visayas, was confident that the case “ will not stand a test of judicial scrutiny” as there was no sufficient basis to charge the officials, he said.

“The way I look at it, how could there be a prima facie cause or probable cause when they already returned their vehicles?” Labella noted.

The barangay captains and Garganera could also file a motion for reconsideration before the Prosecutor’s Office over the fiscals’ resolution finding probable cause to indict them, Labella added.

If dismissed, the officials can file a petition for review before the Regional State Prosecutor, the vice mayor further advised.

“From the standpoint of a lawyer, we just have to follow the legal process. There are rumors, but I told them not to indulge in rumors. That’s too petty and childish. I advise them to be calm and to be circumspect,” Labella said.

He added that there was no malice involved when the officials held on to their city-issued service vehicles since these were being used by barangay constituents especially in remote mountain villages when responding to emergencies.

The criminal charges against Ayuman, Zafra, Alcover, Tabal, Callino, Cagang and Garganera were filed before the MTCC last Tuesday.

Ayuman and Zafra, in separate interviews, welcomed Labella’s suggestion.

Ayuman said he has sent a letter to the presiding judges of MTCC Branch 1, 4, 5 and 7 where their cases were raffled.

On behalf of the indicted barangay captains, Ayuman requested the judges to defer from issuing warrants of arrest against them or if not, recall the warrants if these were already issued.

“We are informing the same Honorable Court that the subject government vehicles have long been delivered to and accounted for by the General Services Office of the Cebu City Government. At present, neither the Office of the Mayor and the General Services Office have issued us any clearance of our accountability despite our faithful compliance,” read Ayuman’s letter.

He also told the MTCC that the vehicles were still in the custody of City Hall as these were not returned to the barangays as intended.

For his part, Zafra, who is also the president of the Cebu City Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), said they will consider Labella’s suggestion.

“I leave it up to our legal counsel what is the best move to be done about this,” said Zafra, adding that even if the barangay captains have different lawyers, they have been conferring with each other on how to deal with the matter.

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TAGS: barangay, calm, captains, court, Labella, MTCC, Philip, Ramil, Sambag, scrutiny, Tagbao, trial

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