SEVEN officials of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City yesterday asked the Office of the Ombudsman-Visayas to reconsider its order placing them under six-month preventive suspension for allegedly failing to cooperate in an anti-illegal drug operation.
Assisted by their lawyer Paul Gino Lopez, Barangay Captain Felicisimo “Imok” Rupinta and seven councilors filed their motion asking Deputy Ombudsman Paul Elmer Clemente to reverse his order.
“Respondents are elective officials, to sanction such order would effectively create a hiatus in the local government unit and deprive the electorate of the officials they choose to serve them with official functions,” the motion read.
The ombudsman suspended the officials pending the conduct of administrative investigation against the officials for grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty, and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of the service.
Clemente pushed for the officials’ preventive suspension after finding out that the respondents’ guilt is strong.
The suspended councilors are Marky Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Buanghug and Wilbert Flores.
They allegedly failed to cooperate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)-Central Visayas during a drug raid last year.
In an interview, Rupinta said their suspension was “unfair” since they never received the PDEA’s complaint. He denied allegations that they ignored the anti-narcotics agents when the latter sought their assistance.
PDEA 7 Director Yogi Filemon Ruiz filed the complaint accusing the barangay officials of refusing to serve as witnesses in the inventory of the seized items during their operation, which yielded P800,000 worth of shabu.
For his part, Ruiz promised that the agency will go after barangay officials who are not serious about the campaign against illegal drugs.