MORE than a hundred residents of Barangay Ermita, Cebu City, signed a petition on Monday, February 6, asking the Office of the President to hasten both the appointment of a caretaker and the investigation of their suspended officials.

This, after the residents, headed by the village's organization of the elderly, padlocked the barangay hall in an effort to stop Senior Police Officer (SPO) 1 Adonis Dumpit from assuming office as acting Ermita barangay captain.

“We won't allow a non-resident to lead us, especially Dumpit, who we all know is too hotheaded,” Victoria Capillanes, 67, told SunStar Cebu in Cebuano.

Last Saturday, Mayor Tomas Osmeña, who called Dumpit “the most-feared policeman,” appointed him to sit as caretaker starting February 6.

No-show

Following this pronouncement, the residents of Ermita did not only padlock their barangay hall, but also posted on the building's facade banners to express their protest against the assumption of a non-resident as acting village chief.

Although he initially agreed to take care of Ermita, Dumpit was a no-show Monday following the development in the barangay.

SunStar Cebu phoned Dumpit, but he declined to comment on the matter.

Suspended barangay captain Felcisimo Rupinta, for his part, denied having a hand in the protest.

“I just came back from Manila after filing my petition for a temporary restraining order before the Court of Appeals. I was just told this (February 6) morning that the senior citizens have padlocked the barangay hall,” he said.

He pointed out that he's willing to discuss matters with Dumpit, should the latter be granted authority to assume office as caretaker.

Aside from Rupinta, suspended earlier by the Ombudsman-Visayas are his seven councilors — Marky Rizaldy Miral, Antonieto Flores, Ryan Jay Rosas, Alio Tamundo, Domingo Ando, Maria Bianghug and Wilbert Flores — after they allegedly failed to cooperate with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency-Central Visayas during a drug raid last year.

The suspension order was served to the village officials last week by the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG).

The residents and barangay personnel lamented that they will only allow an appointee to sit as caretaker if the latter can present a written order from the DILG or the Office of the President.

The workers earlier said they would resign should their suspended officials be replaced with non-residents of Ermita.

A better pick

“We want a resident to lead us because only a member of the community can sympathize with the needs of the barangay. I've been working as a barangay tanod for 16 years, but I'll immediately resign if our officials will be replaced by strangers like Dumpit,” said Alberto Paon, 57.

Paon said he'd prefer having Councilor Dave Tumulak, who earlier volunteered to be the caretaker of Ermita, to sit as acting barangay captain.

Tumulak, who is deputy mayor for police matters, however, maintained that he can't assume office in Ermita as he is an elected official of the city.

To alleviate the tension, he instead spearheaded and joined the petition that will be sent to the Malacañang.

He also held a closed-door meeting with all the suspended officials inside the local gym to discuss the issue.

After a 12-hour lockdown, the building was opened at 2 p.m. and business transactions were resumed.

In the meantime, Carbon Police Station Chief Insp. Clark Arriola said additional personnel will be deployed in the area to ensure peace and order.

The mayor had said that Atty. Winefredo Orcullo Jr. , the city market administrator, will help the barangay.

As to official documents that require the signature of the village chief, Osmeña said he will sign it.