Suspended Ermita officials back in office

By Inna Gian Mejia, Jose Santino S. Bunachita |July 31,2017 - 11:05 PM

Barangay officials of Ermita led by Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta (seated, above) return to work. (Below) Barangay officials share boodle meal with the residents and supporters.

For the past six months, 35-year-old Lea Hermosa had to make do with an unstable income from selling food at her daughter’s school every afternoon.

Hermosa, a single mother, has not received her P7,000 monthly salary as an executive assistant of Barangay Ermita for the past six months.

“They told us they will try their best for us to get our salaries. We had a meeting with Councilor Dave Tumulak and Atty. (Winifredo) Orcullo. Everything that they asked from us was complied by our barangay secretary. But our efforts came to naught. They also said they will give us rice but we did not receive anything,” Hermosa told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.

Everything that they asked from us was complied by our barangay secretary. But our efforts came to naught. They also said they will give us rice but we did not receive anything,” Hermosa told Cebu Daily News in Cebuano.

This was why Hermosa, who has worked for 10 years in the barangay, could not contain her happiness upon the return of Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta and all seven barangay councilmen from a six-month preventive suspension yesterday.

And among the priorities that Rupinta want to accomplish is to process the payroll of the close to 200 barangay employees for the past six months.

“Some were happy that we’re back. But some were also worried as they have not received their salaries. Now, the first thing I will do is to process the payroll of the employees within two days,” Rupinta said in Cebuano in a press conference yesterday morning.

Rupinta lamented that despite several pronouncements from the Cebu City government to provide support and assistance to the barangay during the absence of the barangay officials, nothing has been done.

All barangay officials of Ermita were put in a six-month preventive suspension by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) last January 31 following a complaint filed by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) 7 that the barangay officials did not cooperate during an anti-drug operation against a “shabu tiangge” in the barangay last year.

A festive mood was palpable in the vicinity of the barangay hall yesterday morning as supporters and residents gathered to welcome the return of the barangay officials. Balloons and tarpaulins were hung up, welcoming the barangay officials.

A Holy Mass was also held in the barangay’s sports complex followed by a budol-budol feast shared by the barangay officials with the employees and the residents and supporters.

Rupinta also said that he plans to revive their Barangay Anti-Drugs Abuse Council (Badac) as soon as possible in order to continue their fight against illegal drugs in Ermita. The Badac will be having a meeting today.

He alleged that before he was suspended, there were only three remaining identified drug pushers in the barangay. But right now, he said this has increased to 33 based on reports he has been receiving, as well as on his monitoring.

He criticized the PDEA-7 for not conducting a single raid in the barangay during the past six months when they were suspended.

Aside from the delayed salaries of the barangay’s employees, Rupinta also said that the city government failed to help the barangay in settling their electricity and water bills in the past months.

“I had to borrow from our vendors cooperative for the electricity bill. It reached more than P400,000 for the six months including the water bill,” he said.

Sought for comment on the barangay officials’ return, Cebu City Mayor Tomas Osmeña just downplayed Rupinta’s allegations.

“He is entitled to his opinion,” the mayor said in an interview.

He added that he will have to see first if there is still a need to continue deploying soldiers in the barangays.

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