Rama promises legal aid to sued village chiefs
SUSPENDED Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama decried as political harassment the criminal cases lodged against the seven Team Rama-allied barangay captains and vowed to extend them all the legal assistance that they would need.
The seven were the remaining village chiefs who refused to return city-issued vehicles and were charged with criminal offenses by Acting Mayor Margarita “Margot” Osmeña last Tuesday at the Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office.
The village chiefs were accused of violating Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code, or for failing to make delivery of public funds or property; and Article 231 of the same Code, for openly disobeying a directive of a superior in authority, which was in this case Osmeña’s memorandum for them to return the city-issued vehicles.
Named respondents in the complaint were Barangay Captains Philip Zafra of Tisa, the president of the city’s Association of Barangay Councils (ABC), Joel Garganera of Tinago, an incoming city councilor; Ramil Ayuman of Apas, Yolandito Cagang of Basak Pardo, Rosalita Callino of Buot, Lemar Alcover of Sambag I and Ana Tabal of Tagba-o.
Unlike in the case of Labangon Barangay Councilman Rodulfo Tabasa, Zafra said Osmeña could not get them arrested without going through the legal process.
Tabasa filed yesterday his counter affidavit at the city prosecutor’s office over a similar case lodged against him by Osmeña (violation of Article 221 of the Revised Penal Code), which was cited as a ground for his “citizen’s arrest” last June 10.
Tabasa claimed the city-issued vehicle was covered with an Acknowledgment Receipt for Equipment (ARE) and that he had not personally received any written notice requiring him to return the vehicle for inventory purposes. He also said that at time of his arrest, he was not committing an offense, neither was he about to commit one nor had he just committed a criminal act, and that the in flagrante delicto rule will not justify his arrest as his failure to return the subject vehicle was not malicious.
“The allegations that I willfully, deliberately, maliciously failed to return the subject vehicle to the Cebu City government despite my receipt of the memoranda is a blatant lie,” he said in his affidavit.
“At the time the two GSO (General Services Office) employees went to my residence, the two did not present any documents that would show they were authorized to retrieve and receive the subject vehicles or even at least serve me a copy of the memorandum,” he said.
Tabasa had earlier filed complaints against Osmeña and other city hall officials before the Office of the Ombudsman–Visayas for unlawful arrest, kidnapping, and serious illegal detention, as a result of the citizen’s arrest that he was subjected to.
Prior to his arrest, Osmeña had sued Tabasa and 46 other barangay officials for failing to return the city-issued vehicles. All had returned the vehicles, except now for the seven barangay captains./UP CEBU INTERN MOREXETTE MARIE ERRAM
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