Dili mi mosugot pulihan ang among mga opisyal og dili taga diri (We don’t want non-residents of our barangay to lead us).”

This was the cry of about a hundred residents who gathered yesterday morning outside the Ermita Barangay Hall, as the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) served the preventive suspension of the village’s officials, including Barangay Captain Felicisimo Rupinta.

“They are just trying to destroy his reputation. We can all attest how good a leader he is to all of us,” Marivic Apao, 51, told SunStar Cebu in Cebuano.

At 9:30 a.m., DILG Cebu City officer-in-charge Emma Joyevelyn Calvo arrived in the barangay hall to serve the suspension order of the eight officials, signed by DILG Secretary Ismael Sueno.

Fifteen minutes later, Rupinta entered the building, while his supporters began to gather outside.

He submitted to Calvo without protest.

But Rupinta said they were supposed to have 10 more days to explain themselves after the Ombudsman-Visayas asked them to file a counter-affidavit.

But Ermita barangay secretary Erwin Piñaford was unable to furnish the DILG 7 last Monday with a copy of the Ombudsman’s letter.

“To Ermita, let’s calm down. While all of you may know that we are not guilty of anything, we have to abide by the law,” Rupinta said.

He said he’d like to meet with the appointed village caretaker before leaving for his province of Borbon to “unwind” so that all barangay activities will be left in order.

Among his concerns are Ermita’s garbage management, particularly the segregation of trash and the fuel allocation of garbage trucks.

While the Office of the President has yet to appoint an acting village chief, Calvo said all barangay clearances and permits are put on hold.

The barangay secretary and treasurer were also told to send village concerns directly to the Office of the Mayor, in the meantime.

Sought for comment, Mayor Tomas Osmeña said he’ll put Ermita under 24-hour observation

“I’ll just wait. If nothing happens, I have to takeover myself. We can’t allow things to be disrupted there. I will just have to pull out some people here (in City Hall),” he said.

Osmeña met with Bando Osmeña Pundok Kauswagan councilors last night to discuss Ermita’s situation.

The Ombudsman-Visayas has placed Rupinta and seven councilors under preventive suspension for six months after they allegedly failed to cooperate with the Philippines Drug Enforcement Agency during a drug raid last November 6.